Welcoming players back from Qatar now may provide a crucial advantage when the hectic domestic schedule restarts

“If they all go out of the competition early and can train with us, that would be absolutely outstanding,” Jürgen Klopp joked of his Liverpool players before the World Cup. The German was lucky that just seven of his squad were called upon to travel to Qatar, although only Darwin Núñez has exited before the quarter-finals. The Uruguayan is one of 73 Premier League players no longer involved in the World Cup, leaving 61 in Qatar for their managers to worry about.

Many clubs have enjoyed warm-weather training and have played or are to play friendlies to prepare for the Premier League’s Boxing Day return. But most of this will be done without their World Cup players, which could make a difference when the competitive action begins.

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