Jurgen Klopp has stood by the story that the Anfield hero is nursing a genuine medical problem – and not just biding his time before a last-gasp Barcelona move.
The German needs his best team out for Saturday’s early kick-off against Pep Guardiola’s men but has admitted his star playmaker could return to the missing list.
Klopp said: “Nothing else to say, actually, so he’s back and we had a really good conversation, so good.
“It’s of course different because Phil, I know what people think, but Phil had the back problem a few weeks ago and couldn’t train so that means he missed around about three weeks.
“Yes, he went to the national team and trained normally, but now we have to prepare for a normal season so we have seven games [before the next international break] and we saw training this morning and thought ‘OK, maybe we should use him immediately’ because he was really good, but that doesn’t make sense.
The Kop icon played and scored in the final 14 minutes of his side’s 2-0 victory over Ecuador on September 1 and, just four days later, played 15 minutes in the draw with Colombia.
Team-mate Neymar said the Barca target was playing with a great pain in his heart and Klopp fears he is not ready to return to his side.
He said: “We have now to continue with the pre-season, not too long, but in a few sessions we have to give ourselves the time because in the next month we have seven games.
“We always have the same decision to make, ‘does he need training or can he play?’ and all that stuff.
“Yes, he will now do a little bit more than the other boys but he showed up in a very, very good mood and looks really promising.”