Jordan Henderson is confident both he and Liverpool have made satisfying progress so far this pre-season – but called for the level to rise again as they face Premier League opposition this week.
The Reds touched down in Hong Kong on Monday morning ahead of their participation in the Premier League Asia Trophy, which begins with a fixture against Crystal Palace.
After being sidelined from mid-February for the remainder of 2016-17 due to a foot injury, Henderson has featured in each of the opening two friendlies – playing 45 minutes on both occasions.
“I feel good. I’ve got a few more weeks to build on my fitness but my body feels good,” the captain reported to Liverpoolfc.com on day one of the trip.
“I got through the last couple of games, which was a good confidence boost to get going again. I look forward to the next few weeks and hopefully I can go from strength to strength and be ready for the first game of the season.
“I’m just happy that I’m back training with the lads and playing games. I have been out for a while so I still think I’ve got a little bit more to go in terms of my general fitness and match fitness.
“Hopefully I’ll keep training and keep playing games, and that’ll come.”
Short journeys to Tranmere Rovers and Wigan Athletic provided the warm-up to Liverpool’s visit to Hong Kong, yielding a 4-0 win and a 1-1 draw respectively.
Next up is a clash with Palace and Jürgen Klopp’s charges will then take on either Leicester City or West Bromwich Albion depending on Wednesday’s results.
Henderson expects – and embraces – what are likely to be tougher challenges.
“The previous two matches were good for us, starting back in pre-season, good games for us to get fitness and get going again,” the midfielder continued.
“It’s a step up with Premier League teams. They will be good games for us, for fitness and technical and tactical stuff. We’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can win.”
LFCTV GO: Henderson on fitness and Premier League Asia Trophy
Indeed, while the improvement of the players’ condition is an imperative aspect of pre-season, the skipper puts great stock in recording victories before the campaign begins too.
Asked for the squad’s targets, he said: “To make sure we’re working hard in training, working on fitness levels.
“In games, working on one or two things we need to improve on for the start of the season. The main thing is winning games and getting back into the winning mentality. I think that’s the most important thing.
“We’ve only been back a short space of time but we’ve done a lot of work in that time with a couple of games.
“The cobwebs are gone now and we can start really pushing on in training. I’m sure we’ll start to do that this week.”