Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits that defender Joe Gomez could return to the squad for the first time in more than 15 months against Plymouth on Sunday.
The 19-year-old has endured a torrid time with injuries and setbacks since he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament playing for England Under-21s in October 2015.
He was set to return to full fitness in July last year before suffering another setback when he injured his Achilles tendon and went into another bout of rehabilitation and recovery.
Gomez returned to the pitch for Liverpool Under-23s last month and played a half of football against Arsenal Under-23s as part of getting back his full fitness.
Klopp admits that the young defender could be part of his squad against Plymouth on Sunday at Anfield, but feels that he still has a long way to go to return to a certain level of football.
The Liverpool manager has insisted that the club are not considering loaning him out and are pleased to see Gomez gradually returning to the pitch after a harrowing year-and-a-half.
Asked about updates on Gomez, Klopp said in a press conference: “It wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he’s in the line-up.
“It’s the next step for him, but still a long way to go.
“He already had a long way to go, and there will still be but everything is good.
“We don’t have the idea to give him a loan.
"It will be nice for all of us because he is a wonderful boy and we are really happy for him.”
Gomez joined Liverpool from Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2015 and has made seven senior appearances for the club.