Jürgen Klopp has admitted he won't relish playing the role of 'the bad guy' when taking a cautious approach with the return of the fit-again Adam Lallana.

But the Liverpool boss insists he is aiming to protect the midfielder and boost his team's prospects in the long term by delaying a potential comeback.

Lallana has been sidelined since suffering a thigh injury during the Reds' penultimate pre-season fixture - a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid in Munich.

However, the 29-year-old returned to full team training this week and could be in contention to face Southampton on Saturday, though his manager is in no rush whatsoever.

Klopp told reporters: "It is completely different to Sadio, for example. He was much longer out. 

"It was in the pre-season in Munich against Atletico Madrid, it's long ago. He's a fantastic player but we want to have him for the season. 

"This is the moment where the player wants to be back immediately and I am the bad guy who says, 'not today, maybe tomorrow'. 

"That's not too nice but it's completely normal; I only do it for him and for the club, that’s how it is. What can I say? We will see. 

"It depends how the other players are with shape, how fit they are. We will use him for sure but bringing him now for 90 minutes is not a good idea and will not happen."

Free: Watch Klopp's latest injury update from Melwood

Klopp was also quizzed on Lallana's importance as a trigger for the high press that is a key aspect of his team's tactical approach.

But, while the boss acknowledged that fact, he pointed out that the No.20 has much more in his locker than just work-rate.

"[He is] very, very important. Last year it was difficult when Adam didn’t play because what he does is so different to pretty much all the other players," he added.

"He is the 'jumper' [in the press] and loves to do that. Of course, he is very important for us and we are already looking forward to when he can use him again. 

"But it is not only that, he is a fantastic football player, that was [clear] from the first session [when he returned].

"Unfortunately, I was not involved, but when I came in, they were all really excited about it. They said, 'Adam was pretty good!'"