Xenia Sports – London
Liverpool forward Diogo Jota may have made an instant impact following his transfer from Wolves but believes he has to work harder to become “a big influence”.
The Portugal international scored nine goals in 17 appearances – including becoming only the club’s third player to score a Champions League hat-trick away from home – before a knee problem curtailed his progress.
Injury in the dead rubber against Midtjylland in early December initially ruled out the 24-year-old for two months but he is making good progress and could possibly return before the end of January.
“Things are going well but knee injuries are always complicated so we cannot rush things but I am doing well and I will be back on the field as soon as possible,” he said.
“When I’m fit I know that I’ll give my best in each training session and then each day to give myself a chance of playing.
“In Portugal they used to say the hardest thing is not to arrive but to stay there.
“So that of course is my target. Now that I have achieved a move to Liverpool I want to be a big influence in this club and that’s what I try to do every day.”
Jota surprised many by hitting the ground running following his £41million move in September.
He became the first Liverpool player to score on his first four appearances at home and even slotted in seamlessly with the established front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, with manager Jurgen Klopp trusting him to play alongside the trio in November’s 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
The Portuguese believes it is a role he can reprise when he is fit again.
“When I first came my target was to get into the team and to know what we have to do on the field,” he said in an interview with Liverpool’s matchday programme.
“After that the aim is to give your best and take advantage of the opportunities you might have and that’s all I always try to do.
“Can we play as a four more often in the future? You would need to ask the manager as he is the one that decides.”
Klopp could certainly do with the forward’s versatility to freshen up a forward line which looked a little jaded in the goalless draw at Newcastle.
Instead he may have to manufacture changes at Southampton on Monday with the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri if he is to rest his tried-and-trusted trio.
Jota will be watching from home but admits it has been a frustrating five weeks for him.
“Now I am supporting from the outside it is not easy,” he said.
“It’s even harder when you need to suffer as a fan and you can do literally nothing to help the team on the field.”