Date published: Friday 8th March 2019 5:19
Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to competitive action after 11 months out with a knee injury ended prematurely.
The England international was scheduled to play 45 minutes in the under-23s’ Premier League 2 match at Derby but was taken off four minutes before half-time as a precaution.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had been holding his right hamstring a few minutes earlier and, Press Association Sport understands, Liverpool were not prepared to take any risks in his return from serious knee ligament damage sustained last April.
The 25-year-old had shown some nice touches during the time he was on the pitch, especially one low crossfield ball to the left wing with the outside of his right foot and another 50-yard diagonal with his left which was instantly controlled by Ben Woodburn.
However, it was very much a performance of feeling his way back in as he kept himself out of any trouble and there was little in the way of driving runs from midfield for which he is associated with.
Having been taken off just before the break, he took the five-minute walk back to the changing rooms with a physio during which time he happily posed for photographs with fans.
When asked how he was, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “Yeah, all good.”
After the 3-1 victory Liverpool’s Under-23s coach Neil Critchley said of the midfielder’s problem: “He obviously had a bit of an issue but hopefully it is nothing major.
“The bonus for him is it is not his knee, he is delighted there are no problems with that. He was enjoying himself and was happy to be back playing.
“What was good was he was sensible and came off quickly. I think he handled that situation well.”
Critchley praised the influence Oxlade-Chamberlain brought to the game in the short time he was on the pitch.
“I’ve never met him before and you can see he is a bubbly, positive person and you could see he was enjoying playing again and he brought a calmness and maturity to our play,” he added.
“The lads were delighted to play with someone like that. We sometimes forget they just love playing football and I think it was exciting for Alex to put his boots, shin pads and kit back on, feel like a kid again and it was great to see him out there playing.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to be assessed by Liverpool’s medical staff on Saturday but manager Jurgen Klopp had already moved to play down his comeback before he even took to the field, saying he was unlikely to feature until after the international break at the very earliest.
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