Liverpool midfielder Emre Can admits he will have to prove himself all over again in order to regain his place in the team.
The Germany international made only his third appearance of a season also affected by an ankle injury in Tuesday’s 3-0 EFL Cup win at Derby.
Can’s case was not helped by the fact he was one of the latest players to return to pre-season training after his Euro 2016 involvement, allowing other players to nip ahead of him in the pecking order.
He may have been a favourite of manager Jurgen Klopp last term, but he now has to fight his way back past captain Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana—who has been a revelation after being reinvented in a deeper role than he is used to—and £25 million summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum.
“They have done it very well,” Can said in reference to the first-choice midfield trio.
“Adam, Hendo and Gini have played well together and you can see by the results and the good football—I saw it as well myself as I play with them in the team and I was very happy for them.
“Every player has to start from zero and myself as well.
“Now I am fit, if I get game-time I want to show myself again and also in training.
“We bought very good players and everyone is nearly fit and we have a strong squad.
“If you saw the last few games, we were very strong and we have to keep it up.
“If you play with good players, the levels go up—it is normal.
“It’s not easy but I have to be patient. I try to train hard and if I get game-time then I try to play well and then we will see what happens.”
Competition for places is only going to get more fierce as Klopp made seven changes for the trip to Sky Bet Championship side Derby yet they still won comfortably.
Sadly for him he is likely to lose his place to Lovren for Saturday’s visit of Hull.
Klavan said: “We have a really good team so everyone is really focused even if they don’t play every week but you saw [against Derby] if they get a chance everyone wants to show for the manager.”
There is even competition in goal, where Loris Karius made his debut after recovering from a broken finger which ended his chances of starting the campaign as first choice.
The Germany international, a £4.7 million summer signing from Mainz, now has to get past Simon Mignolet again—although he was given little chance to show off his talents in a one-sided game against the Rams.
What was noticeable, however, was his willingness to come off his line, and sometimes out of his penalty area—as witnessed when he just beat Derby striker Darren Bent to a loose ball.
It helped him get a vote of confidence from Klavan.
“I knew it already in Bundesliga, he was a really good keeper and was quick to come out,” said the Estonian, a former centre-back with German club Augsburg.
“We are moving forward as a whole team and as a last line we have to be higher and it is nice when you have a keeper who is able to come out.
“I can only say what he was in the Bundesliga and what I have seen in training.
“He is good with his feet, he is quick coming out and he is not afraid to come out for high balls and everything so in my eyes he is a really good keeper. I can hear him [talking to players].”