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'It's our pre-season' - Liverpool also preparing for 2020-21 Premier League season in training return, says Klopp

1:47 AM MYT 01/06/2020
Jurgen Klopp Liverpool
The Reds boss does not think there will be much break between campaigns because of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic

Jurgen Klopp says he is already preparing his players for next season as he expects the 2020-21 campaign to begin almost as soon as 2019-20 has finished.

Liverpool players began full contact training last week for the first time since the Premier League was shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The Reds are 25 points clear at the top of the table and require just six more points to be certain of a first title in 30 years, with their first game back scheduled to be against Merseyside rivals Everton.

On Thursday the league revealed provisional plans to restart matches from June 17, with the UK government approving the return of professional sport from June 1 over the weekend.

That three month break has decimated the usual football calendar, with the postponement of Euro 2020 until next year giving leagues time over the summer to complete their domestic seasons.

The Premier League hope to complete all 92 remaining matches by the end of the July, with UEFA aiming to resume the Champions League and Europa League in August.

The 2020-21 season is then expected to begin in September in order to keep disruption to next year’s schedule to a minimum, leaving clubs with little or no time between seasons. That is certainly the outcome Klopp is planning for, as he wants his players to maintain their match sharpness throughout the summer. 

“We don’t have to be match-fit now,” he told Liverpool’s website. “We try it with increasing intensity, day by day, but we have to be fit on the 19th or 20th, whichever day they will give us against Everton, I think. That’s the moment when we want to be at 100 per cent.

“It’s roundabout three weeks until then, that’s good. We want to use that and we will. It’s our pre-season; how I said, we don’t expect a long break in between the seasons, so this is a very important period for us. We never had nine weeks without football training in our lives – since we played football, pretty much. That’s all different but interesting as well.

“We enjoy the situation, that’s really all good. It makes all the difference for us, to be honest, to come together and have this hour or two here together. You get this contact, feedback as well on the pitch directly, not via a computer or a screen. It’s a massive, massive lift.”

Though the return to training and resumption of matches is a first step towards normality post-lockdown, the way teams prepare and play matches will be wildly different. Strict hygiene and social distancing measures are in place at training grounds, while players are tested for Covid-19 twice a week.

“It’s [been] a massive organisational challenge, to be honest,” said Klopp. “What (first-team operations manager) Ray Haughan did in that department is unbelievable – where we can park, where we can walk and all that stuff.

“When you make the step from 10 players of two groups of five, to nearly 30, that’s massive. We still have to stick to the same things. So, we are fully concentrated when we come in here, let me say it like this; that we do the right things, that we get the temperature tested and all these things. It’s not like it usually is.

“It’s completely fine but it’s just when you come here it’s not like, ‘Yippee!’ – you think, ‘Where do I have to drive, where is somebody who gets my temperature?’ and all that stuff. That’s how it is in the moment.

“The boys are still the same really good bunch of boys, and that helps a lot. We are in a good moment, we enjoy it. Hopefully we can make progress in the next two or three weeks, there are a lot of things that need to be organised still, obviously. We need to get hopefully a couple of [bits of] information but we take it like it is and use each second we are together.”

Though the Premier League’s return has been confirmed, Liverpool still do not know exactly when or where they will be playing their remaining games. Matches are certain to be played behind closed doors, but the Reds are waiting to see whether some of their fixtures will be moved to neutral venues for safety reasons.

Despite that uncertainty, Klopp is at least relieved a restart date has now been confirmed. 

“That’s what we were all waiting for," he said. "But now it’s always like this. You were waiting for that, somebody tells us we could start, that’s good. Now we know, from a training point of view, what we have to do when and when we have to be at 100 per cent in the best way, how we can train in different intensities. That was very important.

“Now, of course, it’s more and more interesting when we play where, the times are really important because we will see how we can organise the travel stuff. So, the situation keeps us busy, that’s absolutely OK, but on the pitch everything is fine, that’s really great. Around, we organise it as good as possible and use the situation.”