The small steps Oxlade-Chamberlain must take in Liverpool return

The small steps Oxlade-Chamberlain must take in Liverpool return
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     The football he returns to will be a world away from the one he was forced to leave 11 months ago
     But for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, it won't feel any less satisfying when he makes his long-awaited comeback in a Liverpool shirt on Friday afternoon
     The England international was arguably in the form of his career when it was crudely curtailed with a heart-breaking sharpness back in the spring of last year
     A serious knee injury sustained in April caused Oxlade-Chamberlain to miss both the Champions League final and England's march to the World Cup semi-final under Gareth Southgate
       For an all-action midfielder who was arguably putting in the most consistent performances of his life, it was understandably a bitter pill to swallow
     The knee problem has caused Oxlade-Chamberlain to miss close to a year's worth of action and it's setback that has been keenly felt at times this season - despite the Reds launching a very real tilt at overthrowing champions Manchester City in the Premier League
     The 25-year-old's ability to drive forward from midfield and get Jurgen Klopp's side on the front foot has been missed and despite the near £95million summer outlay on Fabinho and Naby Keita, the Reds' midfield engine room is still without the qualities Oxlade-Chamberlain provides in spades
    Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will start in 8Cancel Play now  His comeback to the first team is edging ever closer however, with the former Arsenal starlet pencilled in to play a part in Liverpool Under-23s' visit to Derby County on Friday afternoon
     Oxlade-Chamberlain's last involvement in a Liverpool shirt came in the white-hot cauldron of a Champions League semi-final against Roma back on April 24
     His damaging injury sees him set to step onto a competitive pitch once more some 318 days later in the more subdued and modest surroundings of Derby County's training ground
     A low-key backdrop for the return of a £35million England star creates an interesting juxtaposition, but it will be exactly what is needed for both player and club right now
     With the Reds faltering a little, having drawn four of their last six Premier League games, inspiration is needed as Klopp looks to inject some of that early-season form back into his charges, with immortality potentially awaiting at the end of these last nine league games
     Expecting Oxlade-Chamberlain to immediately be the one to supply it however is unfair and potentially dangerous
     He has worked incredibly hard to return to fitness, but he will still be some way off being able to significantly influence proceedings at Premier League level having barely kicked a ball in over a year
       Oxlade-Chamberlain's re-emergence is a healthy and much-needed boost to the Liverpool squad, but it will be the attitude of the likable midfielder that will have the biggest impact on his team-mates in the short term
     Indeed, supporters may even be forced to wait until after pre-season before they see the ex-Gunners man at his flying best
     Whatever he can provide between now and May 12 will be welcome, but Klopp and his staff will ensure expectations are correctly adjusted as they hone in on the home straight
    Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will start in 8Cancel Play now    Oxlade-Chamberlain just needs to focus on the here and now without any additional pressure from external forces
    Thoughts of bursting back onto the scene in explosive style should be tempered.  Oxlade-Chamberlain has been missed, but his road to recovery starts with the small steps at Derby County

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