Liverpool FC will leave it late to decide whether Daniel Sturridge will be involved against Manchester City this Saturday, manager Jürgen Klopp has explained.
The striker returned to training with his team-mates at Melwood on Tuesday after a knee injury had restricted him from being available for any of Klopp's first seven games in charge.
And though Sturridge has only played the full 90 minutes just twice in the Reds' last 47 games, Klopp is prepared to leave until 24 hours before kick-off to decide whether the 26-year-old is in contention to feature at the Etihad Stadium.
Klopp has to "think about" whether Sturridge can be involved at City
Klopp told reporters at his press conference that Sturridge is "as fit as he can be" after such a long break away and confirmed that the England international has trained with the team earlier in the week.
The Reds boss acknowledged that Sturridge is "not at 100 per cent" yet but said they "will have to see" whether he feels prepared to feature, after insisting his full fitness a few days ago.
The German said that he doesn't know his decision about whether the forward will be in the travelling party yet, and declared that he has to "think about" it.
He did hail Sturridge's "outstanding" quality, but added that he "needs training" as he continues to build towards full fitness - with Thursday marking only his "third full exercise with the team" after a five week break.
But Klopp also admitted that "sometimes five minutes are enough" for a striker recovering from a lengthy injury, which he has to decide - saying he will "start thinking about it" immediately after his press conference.
Reds must find right balance to ensure Sturridge's injury problems don't persist, says Klopp
Sturridge's last appearance came in the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park at the start of October but Klopp insisted he does not yet know whether he will slowly ease him back into the starting eleven.
The manager said the "problem" is that Sturridge's quality is obvious to everyone, because he is an "unbelievably strong player." He revealed that he is just as impressive in training, and said "you think 'nice.'"
Klopp said that Sturridge could be taken to Manchester, but insisted that he "has to train around the game" on Sunday and Monday - because of the length of his break out of action, stating that he's not sure Liverpool "even had that long for their summer break."
He explained that over those four weeks, he "couldn't train" and was "not cycling or running" - but admitted that because of his skill and quality, he thinks "maybe" they should utilise him even after "a few minutes" of training.
Klopp reiterated that he hasn't decided, but declared that the Reds "have to find the right balance" with supporters wanting to "see more of him on the pitch."