Liverpool could have a weakened lineup vs Norwich in their Premier League opener next month. Reports suggest five players are in a race against time.
The Liverpool Echo claims Liverpool won’t take any chances with players this summer. Anyone playing at an international tournament will receive plenty of time off before reporting to pre-season.
The absolute minimum is three weeks, apparently. It could be more for certain stars, though, and anyone with that kind of time of is unlikely to get their fitness back before the season starts.
And that means five players are more than questionable for the season opener. Liverpool face Norwich at Carrow Road next month but it might come too soon for some.
Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino will all be with Brazil for the Copa America final on Saturday. Then Thiago and Jordan Henderson have both gone deep in the competition at Euro 2020.
Given their injury problems last season, we feel it’s very unlikely that Thiago and Henderson play against Norwich. You can arguably throw Fabinho into that, too.
While options up top will surely see Firmino left out, too. Alisson is a debatable one, though. As a goalkeeper, he might not need as much time as the others to get up to speed.
But for the sake of this piece, let’s assume he’ll get all the time off the others do.
How Liverpool could lineup vs Norwich
We assume Kelleher would fill in for Alisson, rather than Adrian. He earned the no.2 spot last season and certainly did enough to keep it.
If Alisson truly can’t play, we expect the Irishman to.
Alexander-Arnold got the summer off – unfortunately. He was supposed to be at Euro 2020 but injury ruled him out.
Reports claim he’s back for pre-season, though, and he should be fine for the opener.
The new signing seems like a given for the game. Primarily because he’s the only centre-back to have played any football since January.
This should be Konate’s debut.
Virgil van Dijk / Joe Gomez / Joel Matip
A bit of a cheat here but we really don’t know. Whoever partners Konate is likely to be whichever of these three is more ready.
It feels near-impossible to know what that could be at this stage – we’d just be making a wild guess. We can expect Liverpool to figure it out over pre-season.
The first to have actually played at a tournament this summer. There’s half a chance that Kostas Tsimikas plays as he should be more rested.
But with others missing, we’d expect Jurgen Klopp to go with the reliable option.
Mr Reliable should fill in the captain’s role here. That’s his job nowadays – to step in and deliver stability when Liverpool need it.
With both Henderson and Thiago almost certainly out – and Fabinho a real doubt – Milner seems like a certainty.
We recently wrote how Milner and Jones should have Klopp’s trust to start the season. We stand by that. Both should be completely fresh and ready to go.
Jones, in particular, deserves a shot at establishing himself for the season. We saw him take his opportunities last season and Klopp should give him another here.
If Fabinho is ready, we’d expect him here. If he’s not, then Keita gets his shot.
It’s a big season for the Guinean – but we say that every year. Hopefully, this is the one where everything clicks into place for Keita.
Given he’s set to miss the Olympics, Salah becomes the most certain selection here. Liverpool became incredibly reliant on him last season and they’ll want his goals from the off.
Like Salah, he’s had the summer off and that makes him a certainty. These two will be the ones Liverpool turn to for an impressive start next season.
Jota played at Euro 2020, of course, which makes him a slight doubt. Portugal’s early exit likely confirms he’ll start, though.
Liverpool’s midfield probably won’t be the strongest it can be, placing extra pressure on the forwards. But a Salah, Mane, Jota front-three? That should be enough to start the campaign with a bang.