By Carl Markham, PA
Diogo Jota is keen to make up for lost time after his injury frustration and the Liverpool forward is determined to establish himself as a key man up front.
The Portugal international made his first start since May in the 2-1 Champions League victory over Ajax after returning from a hamstring injury initially sustained on international duty in June but aggravated in pre-season.
He has scored 34 goals in 88 appearances having found himself deployed across the front three at times.
Luis Diaz’s arrival in January saw him get more game time through the middle but Darwin Nunez’s signing for a potential club-record fee means Jota faces competition in his two strongest positions and missing the first six matches of the season did not help.
However, he was picked ahead of Nunez and Roberto Firmino for the central role against the Dutch side and made a difference for the 66 minutes he was on the pitch.
“I couldn’t get things right in pre-season but that’s part of the past,” he said.
“Football is always a challenge between us to play in the games, to face different challenges as well.
“That’s life and football, and as players you need to respond to that and survive that challenge every day.
“There is always room for improvement. I want to establish myself here as an important player and I can only do that if I am fit.”
Asked if it was frustrating to be sat on the sidelines watching the team’s struggles he added: “Yes, even more for me because I couldn’t be there helping.
“It is always a lot more complicated when you are on the outside watching but it is a part of the past now.
“I am in (the squad) now and I could help and that was good. Everything is good and ready to go.”
Jota is not the only one having to adapt to the competition presented by his new team-mates, with Diaz and Nunez in particular having to come to terms with their additional responsibilities following the sale of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich in the summer.
“Obviously Jurgen (Klopp) has some quite strong ideas and not every team plays the way we do so it takes time,” he said.
“He (Nunez) didn’t play too many game as he obviously got sent off but when you had Sadio who had been playing for this team for a long period and was pretty much used to everything, it is quite a big change.
“But I think if we play like this it is easier for him and everyone and the way we played (against Ajax) is the way to move forward.”
Having struggled for momentum this season Liverpool now find themselves without a match until the visit of Brighton on October 1 due to the postponement of Sunday’s trip to Chelsea.
But with such a long injury list – eight players are unavailable – it may prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“I wouldn’t say that,” added Jota when asked it was a source of frustration.
“We need to do whatever the calendar tells us to do. Sometimes we have too many games, we often say, and this time we have a break, so we take it as it is.
“You don’t have the momentum from the last game but it is what it is.
“We have played (against Ajax) and we needed to do the things correctly because we will not play for a long time now so it was massive for that reason and we did our job.”