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Klopp impressed with Thiago return after two-month layoff despite Liverpool stalemate at Newcastle

Making his first appearance since October, the midfielder turned in a strong cameo at St James’ Park on Wednesday night

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp was impressed with the quality Thiago Alcantara displayed on his return from injury against Newcastle. 

The Spain international came on in the 73rd minute against the Magpies, making his first appearance since sustaining a knee injury at Everton on October 17.

Thiago sprayed several impressive long balls around the pitch, looking no worse for the lengthy absence on just his third appearance for the Reds. 

Liverpool, however, were unable to find a finishing touch as they drew 0-0 at St James’ Park.

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Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, Klopp said he was impressed with how the 29-year-old performed in his first action since October.

“We could see a lot of moments how good a footballer he is,” Klopp said of Thiago. “Now we have to see how he reacts and all that stuff. We have another game in four days. James Milner played a super game in midfield after an injury break. Nat Phillips did his job, really strong against 100 per cent strikers.”

Despite the draw, his side’s second in a row, Klopp said he was happy with his team’s performance on a night they had several clear-cut chances and could have scored if not for the heroics of Newcastle goalkeeper Karl Darlow.

“The Premier League is only good teams. We had big chances,” Klopp added. “The opposition is good and that happens all the time. You might not think I have to tip my hat to my team but I like the performance. It was really good.

“Can we play better football? Yes, but in this game we did more than enough to win it.

“I think we had four 100% chances. We have won against Newcastle before with fewer chances. Tonight we didn’t but we accept that. I am happy with the things I saw tonight and I can really work with that. The boys are frustrated and rightly so but not about the performance. It is a basis to build on for the next few days, weeks, months.”

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Liverpool remain in first place after the draw, but Manchester United can draw level on points if they defeat Aston Villa on Friday. Klopp, however, said he isn’t too concerned about his side’s position in the table at present. 

“The last thing I’m thinking about is our position in the table at the moment,” Klopp told Amazon Prime. “It’s nice but it doesn’t mean anything.

“We drew tonight and we are still top of the table so that just shows how difficult the season is for everybody.

“When life gives you lemons make lemonade. We have to keep going, next game, Southampton, Aston Villa, Man United and that’s good we know about our responsibility. We didn’t get the result we wanted but it’s not the worst thing in the world, there are worse things happening.”

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