Emre Can’s return to training has handed Liverpool a boost ahead of their crucial Europa League semi-final second leg on Thursday.
The Germany international was expected to be sidelined for about four weeks after spraining ankle ligaments against Borussia Dortmund on April 14.
However, well ahead of schedule, Can rejoined first-team training on Monday – just 18 days after sustaining the injury which resulted in him having to wear a protective boot and use crutches for several days.
The 22-year-old trained with all the players who did not start the 3-1 defeat to Swansea on Sunday afternoon.
No decision has been made yet on whether he will be available for Thursday’s crunch tie with Villarreal, who come to Anfield holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
Liverpool are light in central midfield, as captain Jordan Henderson’s knee ligament injury in April prematurely ended his domestic season and has put his chances of making Euro 2016 with England in extreme doubt.
Can’s return to fitness is the second piece of good news in the last few days as striker Danny Ings, out since mid-October after anterior cruciate ligament surgery, returned to training towards the end of last week.