As Liverpool prepare to visit Bournemouth in the FA Cup this Saturday, Jack Lusby (@LusbyLatest) chooses the five players who he feels would benefit from a rare start.
Heading into Saturday’s FA Cup Fourth Round tie at Bournemouth, Brendan Rodgers will be looking to give his squad a confidence boost after a difficult time at home to Aston Villa.
The Dorset club are currently sitting 16th in the Championship table, seven points from the relegation zone. They also boast the second worst defence in the league, shipping 45 goals in 26 league games so far.
Whilst Eddie Howe is doing a commendable job at his boyhood club given the resources, Rodgers and Liverpool should be looking at this game as a very winnable contest.
This should allow the Ulsterman licence to experiment with his line up, and possibly provide some peripheral figures with precious game time.
Liverpool’s brightest young talent; after a recent return from injury Ibe has continued to impress for Alex Inglethorpe’s U21s side.
In particular, the Englishman recently impressed in the U21s 2-3 loss at home to Bolton’s U21s. Ibe displayed his agility and dexterity well, skipping through the Bolton defence to win a penalty before converting the resulting spot kick with assured ease.
(Highlights, Liverpool U21s 2 – 3 Bolton U21s, 9th December 2013)
Liverpool’s number 33 featured on the bench in the 5-3 win against Stoke earlier this month. This suggests that Ibe is very much in Rodgers’ plans for the future.
The Liverpool manager has suggested that Ibe would be going out on loan in the near future, but as the Liverpool Echo reported recently, he is similarly content with the winger in his squad:
“At some point we will have to get him regular game time in order for him to push on. At this moment in time, he’s on the bench and has got possibilities to play.”
Perhaps a start against Bournemouth will give Ibe the chance to stake a claim for a more regular role at Anfield in the near future?
On-loan Nigerian winger Moses has been heavily censured of late by Liverpool fans, and with good cause.
Since an impressive debut against Swansea back in September, capped by a superb driven goal, Moses’ performances have dipped significantly.
Still, as reported by the Liverpool Echo, Moses remains a part of Rodgers’ plans:
“I’ve got no doubt that over the course of time here he will show his talent. I still expect him to make a big contribution in the second half of the season.”
Moses’ place remains on the bench, but Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth may provide the Nigerian with the minutes he craves.
But following another disappointing performance against Oldham, should this represent a last chance for Moses: impress, or face a terminated loan?
After completing his first appearance for the Liverpool first team in 15 months, the previous round tie against Oldham, Kelly told LiverpoolFC.com of his nerves prior to kick off:
“It was brilliant. I was probably more nervous for this match than any I’ve ever played for Liverpool…It was great to get that behind me, getting up and down the line.”
Kelly’s solid performance in the Anfield game is testament to the determination of a player who has suffered a horrific injury layoff.
The next stage of the right-back’s confidence building should be a start against Bournemouth.
With Glen Johnson currently underperforming, the reintroduction of Kelly on the right side of defence may provide worthy competition for the England international.
Could an impressive performance against Bournemouth lead to a regular place for Kelly in Rodgers’ starting line up?
Another frail position for Liverpool of late is on the opposite side of defence: the problematic left-back spot.
With Jose Enrique and Jon Flanagan currently out injured, lacklustre French loanee Aly Cissokho has been deployed by Rodgers as the only fit senior left-back available.
This should provide youngster Brad Smith an opportunity to impress against Bournemouth.
Another victim of long-term injury, Australian-born Smith has worked hard to return to the U21s fold, and his eye-catching performances led to a call-up to the senior squad earlier this season.
Unfortunately, Smith’s debut came at an unflattering juncture, deployed on the left wing as Chelsea closed out a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge in December.
As with Kelly, the supposedly lesser opposition should prove to be another confidence building exercise for Smith.
A balance of defensive solidity and attacking pace, can Brad Smith prove himself a true Rodgers-style full-back?
Finally, Luis Alberto represents something of an anomaly in Brendan Rodgers’ squad.
Having shown sparks of a natural brilliance in his fleeting appearances in a Liverpool shirt, the 21-year-old Spaniard has yet to impose himself fully on the games provided.
Linking up well with Iago Aspas in the 2-0 win against Oldham in the previous round, Alberto has proven that he has at least a measure of the ability that prompted Rodgers to spend a considerable portion of his transfer budget on him.
However, the ex-Sevilla man needs a stand-out performance or two before he can begin to justify a continued selection.
Bournemouth should provide Alberto that platform.
As playmaker Coutinho looks increasingly in need of a break, Alberto could offer Rodgers another option in the advanced midfield position in lieu of the Brazilian.
With the jury still out, can Alberto prove his worth to the Liverpool first team with a performance at the Goldsands Stadium?
Do you agree with this selection? Who deserves a start against Bournemouth on Saturday, and why?