​Naby Keita was a notable absentee from Liverpool's matchday squad against Sheffield United on Saturday, where a second-half strike from Georginio Wijnaldum proved to be the differance against Chris Wilder's side.

The 24-year-old returned from a five-month lay off when Liverpool cruised through their Carabao Cup match with MK Dons last week, but Keita surprisingly wasn't involved at Bramall Lane.

The Liverpool Echo claim that Keita took the decision himself to not travel on Saturday in an attempt to work on his fitness, hoping to finally establish himself at Anfield after an injury-hit first season at the club.

Naby Keita

That hope of keeping Keita fit and healthy for more than just a few weeks at a time is shared by manager Jürgen Klopp too, saying after their win in the Carabao Cup that Liverpool have to be 'really sensitive' to his history of injuries.

"It is very important [to keep him fit]," Klopp said, quoted by the Liverpool Echo. "Pep [Lijnders] needed to remind that it was agreed with me before the game that he should only play 60 minutes. So we took him off when it looked like he could go longer in that game.

"So we have to be really sensitive in that situation because, obviously, [the injury] came all of a sudden. He was injured in the summer break during the Africa Cup of Nations and then came back and he was injured again.

"So we have to be really careful. It's a similar situation to Alisson but the team is doing so well there is no rush to bring him in.

"The toughest period is still to come. What we did so far was tough but the toughest period is still to come - November, December and January will come and we will need everybody for that period. We have to make sure they are all available."