InterviewDiogo Jota: I feel good - now I want to help the team with goals and assists
Diogo Jota is targeting goals and assists as he strives to help Liverpool following his return from injury.
The Portugal forward made his first start since mid-October as the Reds were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday evening.
A calf injury kept Jota on the sidelines for around four months, but he is happy to be able to contribute on the pitch once more.
“It was just over four months since I played Man City at home, that was my last game, so I had to admit it felt strange - I was not used to playing Premier League anymore,” the No.20 told Liverpoolfc.com on Monday.
“But I felt good during the game, I had a couple of chances in the box and around, I just need to get my certainty back and I think that will come with more minutes and hopefully [I can] help the team with goals and assists.”
Jota continued: “I had a strange calf injury. They said to me they hadn’t seen it before, most of the people, so we needed to ask for the help of some specialists as well to try to get over it, and of course to give it a bit more time because of the complexity and just to be safe.
“But yeah, it was very hard, a long time. The results, to be honest, didn’t help as well so it was very frustrating to see things happening and not be able to help in any way, well, apart from the dressing room talks but [not] on the field.
“But yeah, it’s over now, I am back and I want to finish the season available to start with and then obviously if I can help, even better.”
We caught up with Jota at the AXA Training Centre ahead of Liverpool’s meeting with his former club Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on Wednesday night.
Read the rest of the interview below.
Diogo, how are you feeling now about the result and performance at Palace having had some time to reflect?
Well, it’s in the past already, we are truly focused now on Wolves. Obviously it was not the result we all wanted but I think we just need to take the positives out: a clean sheet, that is a really important factor, away from home it is not easy and it was the third in a row and I truly believe that if we keep that for Wednesday we will get the three points.
Is there a feeling that it’s so important to make sure you do not lose when you’re unable to win a game?
Yeah, we all had that thought. Adding points is always better than staying with the same [amount] that we had before the game, so obviously we wanted three points but after the Champions League game as well, playing away, Crystal Palace away is never an easy ground, so it’s hard but one point - it’s one more.
Match action: Palace 0-0 Liverpool
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Does the fact yourself and other players are back to fitness now help with the positivity around the AXA Training Centre? It brings about competition for places too…
Yeah, it’s always helpful. When you need to play all the games because we don’t have any more options, it’s not easy. We play at a high level, we play at a high intensity as well, so I think it’s good to have competition. Everyone feels on their toes, we know that we can give our best because maybe we don’t have to play the full game because we have other options and I think that gives everyone a better momentum and a better feeling about the games. Now we have still a lot to play for in my opinion and our next one is on Wednesday.
You cannot afford to be down for too long, can you? You have to bounce back quickly and concentrate on the next game…
Yeah, it’s been a very hard season, mentally for me especially, and of course on the field with the results we have had, nothing is going our way, let’s say it like that. But we need to try to do something and there is still a lot to play for - there is a place to fight for in the league and to give next season already a better shape because we all know how important it is to be involved in the Champions League. So, I think that’s crucial that this season we try to do our best to be there.
Wolves are your former club, of course, and they are looking up the table now after a difficult spell earlier in the season…
Yes, I believe they will stay up - I just hope it is not with our help [on Wednesday]. They beat us already in the league with a great result for them and we played Wolves already three times this season, this will be the fourth time, so we are used to each other, let’s say, already. I know the way they can compete and it’s really important that we avoid their confidence going up because in the end this is the Premier League and everybody can beat everybody.
It’s the start of another massive week, with Wolves followed by Manchester United. Both games are at Anfield, which is a huge incentive…
Yeah, we all know that the results we had in the Premier League especially so far this season are much better at home, because the fans are behind us [and] supporting. I think the Anfield effect also has a big influence on the opponents’ team and I think with our help on the pitch as well we can create a good atmosphere that helps Liverpool take the three points.
Your song has been ringing out among the fans again - how will your first goal following that injury feel? Hopefully it comes at Anfield this week…
Yeah, I hope so. It was a very special moment when I came back from injury against Everton - I really felt blessed to have that moment when I first stepped on the pitch. I know they [the supporters] like me and hopefully I can deliver on the pitch.