Jurgen Klopp has overseen a perfect start to Liverpool’s season, but the hard work starts here as the fixture schedule mounts up and changes are required.
Liverpool’s bench at the King Power was arguably their strongest in many years, and Klopp is planning to rotate after the international break.
With a variety of challenges between those two outings, here are three players who supporters can look forward to seeing in action.
“Now it’s really [time] to make the debut,” he told Globo Esporte this month. “I’m fine, training well and prepared.”
The 24-year-old was one of just six to feature in every game in pre-season, and played more minutes (454) than any other player, impressing over his nine outings.
But he has so far been in just one matchday squad in the league, having been omitted for the wins over Palace, Brighton and Leicester.
An impressive display at right-back in Brazil’s 2-0 victory away to the United States will have given him confidence, but it is the No. 6 role that Fabinho will play for Liverpool.
It could be seen as a baptism of fire, but there is a possibility that he starts against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on September 18, as he is already familiar with the Ligue 1 giants.
Signing the ex-Monaco midfielder for £39 million was widely considered a coup for Liverpool, and supporters should be relishing the introduction of a top-class defensive midfielder.
Possible start: PSG (H), September 18
It would be wrong to consider an injury to another player a positive, but Adam Lallana‘s latest setback could certainly open the door for Jones’ senior debut.
Lallana was withdrawn from the England squad this month due to a groin injury, and while he is pencilled in for a swift return, recent history suggests it could be longer.
The 30-year-old’s influence on Merseyside is waning, and this comes at a time when the 17-year-old Jones is making waves behind the scenes at Melwood.
With a more important league trip to Stamford Bridge coming three days after, before a flight to Italy to take on Napoli in the Champions League, this third-round tie could be used for rotation.
Giving Jones an opportunity in this quaternary competition is the ideal platform for the prodigious midfielder to build as he targets a long-term role under Klopp.
Possible start: Chelsea (H), September 26
Like Jones, Shaqiri gained a lot of admirers during pre-season, slotting in quickly following his bargain £13.75 million move from Stoke City.
The Swiss shone in a variety of roles, and explained towards the end of last month: “I believe that I can play every position along the front line and the coach knows that.”
While he is most likely to be fielded out wide, Shaqiri could feasibly deputise for Roberto Firmino as a nominal No. 9, while he thoroughly impressed as a No. 10 for Switzerland this month.
Against Iceland, the 26-year-old ran the show, with a major statement display that saw him press, drop deep, create a host of chances and showcase his set-piece prowess.
With this in mind, supporters can look forward to a motivated Shaqiri making his mark over the next month.
Possible start: Tottenham (A), September 15
Arguably the star of pre-season, Sturridge scored six and assisted two in nine games, proving his ability to adapt in a new role as a No. 10.
Klopp was certainly roused by his efforts, and a goal with his first touch against West Ham should have improved his chances of a regular berth, but so far he has only played 14 minutes.
The striker headed to Los Angeles during the international break to continue work on his fitness, with an injury-free season the key aim.
Firmino’s late return to training ahead of the journey to Tottenham could provide Sturridge with a starting opportunity, although unlike Shaqiri his introduction would require a change in style.
Instead, it is more feasible he remains as an impact striker, and a possible alternate in the League Cup, but given his performances in pre-season he certainly deserves more game time.
His partnership with Keita should be given a chance to flourish on the competitive stage.
Possible start: Chelsea (H), September 26
Klopp was relatively consistent in his use of young players throughout the summer, and like Jones they largely took the chances provided to them.
With a new contract, injury to Mignolet, a call-up to training with the Republic of Ireland squad and regular sessions with Klopp at Melwood during the break, the 19-year-old should have solidified that.
Similarly, Nat Phillips remained on Merseyside while the likes of Grabara and Jones departed on youth international duty, and with Dejan Lovren still sidelined he is arguably fourth choice.
And Rafa Camacho, despite joining the Portugal U19s for their clashes with Italy, could be considered for a role in the near future.
Much depends on how important Klopp deems the League Cup, but in a congested run packed with tough games, it could be that he opts for youth at Anfield.