Defender Joe Gomez admits it hurt having to watch Liverpool’s “historic” season from the sidelines.
The 21-year-old began the season as Jurgen Klopp’s first choice to partner Virgil Van Dijk at centre-back, while also providing cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right.
However, a lower-leg fracture sustained in a challenge with Burnley’s Ben Mee on December 5 – where he was expected to be sidelined for six weeks but a setback meant he required a second operation – delayed his comeback until mid-April.
As a result the England international featured just six times – with his only start coming in the 3-0 defeat in Barcelona – during the thrilling title run-in and progress to a second successive Champions League final.
Gomez said that was difficult to take.
“It’s probably underestimated a bit how much it can affect us as footballers,” he told liverpoolfc.com.
“Like it might just seem that you’re injured and now you just watch the boys, but it hurts – especially a year like this that was pretty historic.
“To watch a large majority of those games, having had a taste of it at the beginning, was difficult to take.
“Obviously it was nice to overcome it and get a bit of involvement at the end.
“We’ve just got to move on now and we’ve got a big game. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but it’s all a learning curve.”
Gomez missed last year’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev after undergoing ankle surgery to correct a problem initially sustained on international duty in March last year.
He, along with midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), had to watch from the stands as Real won 3-1 in a game which saw in-form Mohamed Salah forced off in the first half with a shoulder injury after a tangle with Sergio Ramos.
Liverpool lost that game because of two goalkeeping errors and a brilliant Gareth Bale overhead kick but Gomez believes that experience and their close-run league title challenge means they go to Madrid to face Tottenham, in their first Champions League final, in a better position.
“I definitely think we go into this final in a different place,” he added.
“It’s still a Champions League final and they’re always separate occasions and you have to approach it with the same mentality.
“But I think this year speaks for itself and the growth in the team has been massive.
“(The manager) shows and emphasises the fact that we’re a different team and we can’t go into thinking that we’re the same team.
“In that sense, we can take the confidence from that, but still have the desire to win one because we know what it means for this club and we want to get the sixth star.”
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