Liverpool will finally finish their pre-season in the next few days, after friendlies on both Sunday and Monday. A few players can still earn first XI places to face Norwich, however.
So who needs to make sure they shine vs Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna?
Jordan Henderson almost certainly won’t start on Saturday. He’s yet to link back up with Liverpool and even if he plays both friendlies, he’s going to be behind on fitness.
That means the spot alongside Fabinho and Thiago is open. Naby Keita is probably the best bet to fill it.
He’s already caught the eye in pre-season and Keita just needs to show some rhythm. Do that and Jurgen Klopp surely picks him in his midfield three.
There’s a chance that there are actually two midfield spots open against Norwich. Henderson likely won’t play, as explained above, but there are doubts over Thiago, too.
He sat out Liverpool’s games vs Bologna last week and revealed on Saturday that he’s had injury problems for some time. While he says he’ll try to be ready for the opener, there’s no guarantee.
We wonder if Klopp might throw Harvey Elliott into his midfield as a result. He’s used the teenager there in pre-season to great effect and Saturday might be a good time to try it ‘for real’.
They’re a newly-promoted side, pressure isn’t too high, and Liverpool may have an excuse to use Elliott. One to watch out for, certainly, if the 18-year-old shines to finish pre-season with Liverpool.
In an ideal world, we imagine Klopp would like to play his usual front-three for this one. It isn’t that easy, though.
Both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are nailed-on starters as they’ve had full pre-seasons without international football. Roberto Firmino, however, arrived back late after Brazil made the Copa America final.
The no.9 is very difficult to replace like-for-like, though, and if he’s ready, Klopp will surely put him in. Otherwise, Diogo Jota seems certain.
It would likely take some very impressive performances for Firmino to force his way into the side. He’s behind the others fitness-wise and hasn’t been at his best for some time.
Still, the Brazilian can earn his place by shining over the next two days.