Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is "ahead of schedule" after he stepped up his rehabilitation at Melwood.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has recently returned to doing outside work at the training ground, sharing a picture on social media of his first run in eight months.
The former Arsenal man became somewhat of a favourite on the Kop during a hugely promising first season, although he has been sidelined since suffering multiple ligament damage against Roma in April.
He was set to miss the majority of this campaign, however Klopp has now claimed that the 25-year-old is doing extremely well and could be in line for a return much sooner.
“The best news was he really started going on the pitch and from the first step it looked completely normal,” the manager said in his pre-Arsenal press conference.
“Not like when sometimes players come back and start running, not really limping but it’s not the picture you have in your mind.
“From the first step it looked like Ox, and there was no reaction, which is nicer.
“No pressure on him but it looks like he may be back in normal training in February; late February, March.
“So that gives us hope that he will be back this season.
“That’s the moment. We are usually not that excited about something like this—a lot of things can happen—but it looked so positive.
“And it’s just nice to have him around with a smile on his face again, with good reason.
“He’s obviously happy and we’re very happy about the improvement.”
The boss was asked to elaborate on his comments and whilst acknowledging there is still a long way to go, was clear in his enthusiasm for having the midfielder return.
“It’s a surprise, and if anybody from the medical department listens to what I said they’ll have a breakdown!” he joked.
“It looks really good. It needs time and each little muscle needs to adapt to the intensity.
“But what he did so far, if you look at the little sessions he does outside, it looks like he can play tomorrow.
“It’s a long way to go, but it’s a boost for the whole dressing room. He’s such an important part of that.
“If he could be back in the team that would be really good.
“We don’t know, but it’s a surprise, he’s ahead of schedule. We won’t push it too much, but we won’t hold him back.
“We don’t have to talk about his progress over the next month, or couple of months.
“But if he makes further steps like he did in the last couple of weeks he can play Premier League football this season, which is nice to know.”