The return of the fit-again Adam Lallana 'will feel like a new signing' for Liverpool of a hectic run of fixtures, according to Jason McAteer.
Lallana has yet to feature for the Reds in 2017-18 having sustained a thigh injury during the penultimate game of their pre-season schedule.
But, as recently revealed by Jürgen Klopp, the 29-year-old is on track to make his comeback when domestic football resumes following the international break.
And McAteer believes the midfielder's availability provides a timely boost going into the busy Christmas period.
"It will feel like a new signing. Adam played a crucial part last year," he told Liverpoolfc.com.
"[He] is one who can offensively play in a number of positions, so it will be great to have him back, he will be raring to go and he will be fresh.
"He has plenty of ability, he’s added goals to his repertoire as well so he will be a welcome return.
"He’s a lovely player to watch on the eye and he offers a lot. Like I said before it’s a crucial period.
"It’s a crucial time to pick up points and not drop silly points. With the demands of football now you are playing three games a week and it becomes very stressful.
"To have someone like Lallana back who you can get a run of games out of is a massive boost for the club."
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Klopp will also hope to have Sadio Mane available again after the winger returned for the Reds during the 4-1 win over West Ham United that preceded the break.
Although he was something of a surprise inclusion in the starting XI against the Hammers, the Senegalese underlined his value to the Reds by providing two assists.
McAteer said of the No.19: "You miss him when he is not there.
"The manager said he would come back after the international break, but he obviously spoke to the physios and the player and he was raring to go.
"He got his performance against West Ham spot on. He just adds something different.
"I think the players look around the dressing room and when he is fit and playing he gives a massive boost to the team.
"I know everyone talks about Coutinho being the star man but he is right up there as being vitally important for Liverpool and it’s important he come back from the break fit at this crucial time."
With Philippe Coutinho having recovered from an adductor problem ahead of Southampton's visit to Anfield this weekend, Klopp is facing something of a selection headache.
But McAteer insists the manager will welcome the chance to rotate his squad to ensure fresh legs over a period that will see the Reds contest 13 games in 45 days.
He explained: "This is why you put a squad of numbers together. You have cup games thrown in there, we have Champions League this year and we have a run of games over this period.
"I think he has a squad more than able to cope with the demands that come their way.
"There is a lot of football to be played up until new year, but like I said we are getting players back and there are a lot of players playing in Europe this year.
"There are probably one or two players who are able to get on the bench and not start week in week out but there are also a lot who see themselves as a big part of the first team and play a lot of football.
"You look at James Milner who didn’t play at the start of the season but he has played the last five games and he will play a big part coming in.
"It’s all about balancing and playing people at the right time. The physical team, the medical team, the scientists at the club will all be watching the players closely and recovering properly and rehydrating."