7 Liverpool players fans can look forward to seeing after the international break

12 September 2018

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.


The manager made just one alteration to his starting lineup over the first four games of 2018/19, with Jordan Henderson replacing Naby Keita for the 2-1 win at Leicester City.

Prior to that, the Reds were unchanged for victories over West Ham, Crystal Palace and Brighton, with Klopp seeking consistency rather than utilising the new-found depth of his squad.

Liverpool’s bench at the King Power was arguably their strongest in many years, and Klopp is planning to rotate after the international break.

This comes with his side playing seven games in 23 days, starting with Saturday’s trip to Wembley to take on Tottenham and ending with the arrival of Man City at Anfield on October 7.

With a variety of challenges between those two outings, here are three players who supporters can look forward to seeing in action.

 

Fabinho

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 19, 2018: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during a preseason friendly match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Ewood Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

While Klopp is eager to ease Fabinho into life in the Premier League, the Brazilian is convinced he is ready to perform whenever called upon.

“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

 

Curtis Jones

Curtis Jones of Liverpool during the pre season match at Prenton Park, Birkenhead. Picture date 10th July 2018. Picture credit should read: Matt McNulty/Sportimage via PA Images

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.

Consistently impressive throughout pre-season, Jones has continued to train with the first team this season, and should be in the frame for the League Cup clash with Chelsea.

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

 

Xherdan Shaqiri

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, August 7, 2018: Liverpool's new signing Xherdan Shaqiri after the preseason friendly match between Liverpool FC and Torino FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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.

Unlike last season, Klopp is now able to rest the likes of Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane without a real drop in quality.

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

 

Daniel Sturridge

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 19, 2018: Liverpool's captain Daniel Sturridge applauds supporters following a preseason friendly match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Ewood Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda) Virgil van Dijk

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

 

The Rest

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Thursday, July 19, 2018: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the pre-match warm-up before a preseason friendly match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Liverpool FC at Ewood Park. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

Klopp was relatively consistent in his use of young players throughout the summer, and like Jones they largely took the chances provided to them.

After rotating with Kamil Grabara as the Reds’ third goalkeeper, Caoimhin Kelleher looks to have moved ahead of his academy counterpart to become next in line behind Alisson and Simon Mignolet.

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.

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