Villarreal v Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp and Christian Benteke

Benteke has not played for Liverpool since the 3-2 defeat at Southampton on 20 March

BBC coverage

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Christian Benteke has travelled with Liverpool for Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg at Villarreal.

The striker has not played since a knee injury sustained with Belgium in March.

His return boosts Liverpool’s striking options with Divock Origi out injured.

“It is the best news Christian is back,” said Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

“We only have players ready to play a part tomorrow. There are no tourists. We are ready for the moment.”

Origi picked up a serious ankle injury in the 4-0 win over Everton last Wednesday, while defender Mamadou Sakho is not expected to play again this season.

He and Liverpool have agreed he will not play while a Uefa investigation into a failed drugs test is completed.

Villarreal, meanwhile, are seeking to reach their first ever European final at the fourth attempt.

El Submarino Amarillo (the Yellow Submarine) were beaten semi-finalists in this competition in 2004 and 2011, and lost to Arsenal in the Champions League semi-finals in 2006.

The Spanish side drew 0-0 at home to Real Sociedad on Sunday and are fourth in La Liga, four points clear of fifth place with three matches left to play.

“We must be prepared for our best game. This is the highest level of football that Villarreal show each week. Unbelievably strong,” Klopp added.

“We only speak about the semi-final. No-one thinks we are halfway – we are here because we respect each tournament and respect each round.”

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