SALZBURG, AUSTRIA - Tuesday, August 25, 2020: Liverpool's Marko Grujic during a preseason friendly match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and Liverpool FC at the Red Bull Arena. (Pic by Propaganda)

Difficult full debut for Grujic & Woodburn tests COVID-19 positive – Liverpool FC Loan Watch

Liverpool’s out-on-loan players have had an extremely mixed weekend, with a variety of starters, subbed and sidelined individuals highlighting football’s inconsistency overall this season.

Whether looking at form guides, performance levels, fitness or even fixture scheduling, there’s very little consistency within elite-level football this year.

It’s a knock-on effect of the wider landscape of the world right now, of course, and Liverpool’s players aren’t immune to it – and those out on loan perhaps more so than the ones within the confines of Melwood and Anfield.

The past weekend served as a reminder of the ups-and-downs which are coming even more often than normal, with just three players tallying 90 minutes and another four potentially featuring on Monday night.

In terms of highlights, the most noteworthy candidate was Marko Grujic, who made his first start for FC Porto after a cameo appearance off the bench in the Champions League midweek.

Our Serbian all-rounder started as the deepest midfielder in Porto’s 4-1-4-1 on Friday night, having won plaudits for his 20-minute performance against Olympiacos.

However, it didn’t go to plan this time; Porto were poor, fell 2-0 down to 10 men before netting a penalty of their own just before half-time, and Grujic was one of two subs made at the break. That ultimately didn’t help, with Porto losing 3-2 by full-time.

It wasn’t all bad though: there appeared to be support for Grujic across social media, with several journalists and Porto fan sites suggesting he was one of the few to have asserted himself on the match in the first 45 minutes.

This would suggest that he was hooked for the manager to put others in place who were more familiar with the tactical roles required – for all the good that did.

Domestically, it was a weekend of defeats for the highest-profile attacking options for the Reds.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 3, 2020: Cardiff City's Sheyi Ojo during the Football League Championship match between Blackburn Rovers FC and Cardiff City FC at Ewood Park. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sheyi Ojo and Harvey Elliott both started in similar roles, right of the forward line, for Cardiff and Blackburn respectively.

While Ojo has been in great form recently, his goals and assists have largely come from central roles – he was on the right this time as another loanee, Harry Wilson, was out.

Ojo only managed one shot on this occasion as his side went down 3-2, while Elliott couldn’t fashion a shooting chance for himself at all – but did make three key passes in Rovers’ 2-0 loss to Swansea, the most of anyone in the match.

Elsewhere, Ben Woodburn was unavailable this weekend for Blackpool after testing positive for COVID-19.

WIGAN, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 22, 2020: Liverpool's captain Ben Woodburn during the EFL Trophy Northern Group D match between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool FC Under-21's at the DW Stadium. Wigan Athletic won 6-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Tangerines released a statement to say he has “entered a period of self-isolation, before being tested again at a later date.”

Over in MLS, left-back Tony Gallacher was the only on-loan Red to earn a win, with his Toronto side beating Inter Miami 2-1 as the Scot played all 90 minutes.

Union Berlin face Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Monday, where Loris Karius and Taiwo Awoniyi are likely to be on the bench, with Kamil Grabara in Denmark and Adam Lewis in France’s second-tier also facing Monday night action.

Liverpool Loan Watch Roundup

Blackburn Rovers' Harvey Elliott during the Sky Bet Championship match at Vicarage Road, London.

  • Harvey Elliott (Blackburn) – 90 mins vs Swansea
  • Sheyi Ojo (Cardiff) – 90 mins vs QPR
  • Marko Grujic (Porto) – 45 mins vs Pacos de Ferreira
  • Tony Gallacher (Toronto) – 90 mins vs Inter Miami

Unused: Boyes, Woodburn, Arroyo, Wilson
To play Monday night: Karius, Awoniyi, Grabara, Lewis