* Written ahead of Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Watford at the weekend
International breaks are usually dreaded and never-ending affairs. But with a mammoth April which could see Liverpool play a total of 10 times, I feel like these two weeks off have been welcomed by Jurgen Klopp and his team.
The Reds manager returned to the AXA Center earlier this week after spending a well-deserved few days and I know a few of his staff were able to escape for a short vacation across Europe.
As always, fingers will have been crossed for the safe return of those in the international contingent and we will hear if there have been any untimely fitness concerns when Klopp meets the media at his pre-Watford press conference on Friday lunchtime. .
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Speaking of injured players, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s work continues behind the scenes. The right-back is working on his own bespoke and specially designed training program with the aim of getting him back on the pitch as soon as possible.
He is extremely unlikely to be put at risk in the coming days as the Reds host Watford before traveling to Lisbon for a Champions League quarter-final with Benfica. I was told earlier this week that the game with Man City at the Etihad on April 10 remains the return target for Alexander-Arnold.
He is progressing well but Liverpool are wary of pushing him too soon. Alexander-Arnold will be integral to a good result at City, so he’ll have every chance to make this game, even if he misses the two before it in the coming days.
Football For Change President’s Luncheon
I must highlight the excellent work of Football For Change in this week’s newsletter. The charity was launched in 2020 with the aim of supporting young people across the region with a particular focus on helping them access education, employment and training. He is backed by Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard as well as James Milner and Alexander-Arnold among several other top names in football.
More than £100,000 was raised for local causes at the Hope Street Hotel last week, with Carragher, Gerrard and Alexander-Arnold all donating special prizes for the charity auction. The Liverpool legends also took part in a very frank question and answer session with Alastair Campbell before live music was provided by Tom Grennan.
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This follows the £250,000 which was raised in November at the FFC’s inaugural gala dinner. Everyone involved should be immensely proud of their efforts so far, but as Carragher said, “This is just the beginning.”
I also had the chance to speak to Gerrard for an exclusive interview for ECHO about life as a Premier League manager at Aston Villa and how he managed to rise to elite level so quickly after starting as a Premier League manager. the academy in 2017.
The ex-captain was in a relaxed mood as we chatted on the rooftop of the city center hotel and he told me how positive the international break had been for him given the ‘whirlwind’ few months that have preceded her since joining Villa in November.
Elsewhere, the fallout from the FA Cup semi-final decision continues to rumble as Liverpool fans prepare for a nightmarish journey 200 miles south of Wembley without the help of train lines later this month- this.
After the FA said it would run 100 free buses between Etihad and Anfield to Wembley and back, the governing bodies have been accused of making a ‘purely financial’ decision by influential fan groups Spirit of Shankly and We Are 1894.
Speaking to SOS sources, they said they had yet to hear anything formal or otherwise from the FA on the specific logistics of running the 100 free buses that day. “It will be madness!” was a particularly terse WhatsApp response.
And finally, Liverpool have announced that they will face Manchester United in Thailand in July. It will be the first time the Reds have visited the region since 2015 and Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium is expected to be full when England’s two biggest clubs face off this summer.
No further details of the Reds’ pre-season have been disclosed beyond that friendly, but given that the summer schedule usually starts in mid-July, there are plans for an Asia tour South East and maybe even Australia could be part of the itinerary. . Liverpool, of course, have huge followings in this part of the world, so I’m sure fans can’t wait to see their heroes in the flesh this summer.
For now, though, it’s time to take a deep breath as a massive, season-shaping and potentially era-shaping April begins.
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