Liverpool’s injury crisis plummeted to new depths last night as Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren were casualties of their Capital One Cup first leg victory over Stoke City.
Jurgen Klopp is now without as many as eight first-team players, according to Sky Sports. But one man’s despair is another’s hope, and opportunity now knocks for these five Reds:
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One man who has arguably already taken his chance is Ibe, who came on for Coutinho at the Britannia Stadium and scored the only goal of the game to put the Reds on course for Wembley next month.
The 20-year-old winger has featured regularly under Klopp, but mostly from the bench, and he could now be due for a run in the starting lineup with Coutinho out and Roberto Firmino struggling for form.
The Welshman was another of Liverpool’s star performers in the Potteries, laying on the assist for Ibe with a no-look pass which has sent the internet crazy with ironic comparison disorder.
But the 25-year-old is no joke. He can play. If Emre Can or Lucas Leiva are asked to fill in at centre-back, Allen will add plenty to his tally of one Premier League start for the season in the coming weeks.
Another solution to Klopp’s shortage of defenders – Lovren has joined Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Joe Gomez on the sidelines – is to bring Tiago Ilori back from his loan spell at Aston Villa.
The 22-year-old joined Villa in the summer on a season-long deal with no recall option, but he could return to Anfield if his loan is terminated – a possibility considering he is yet to play a single minute.
The defender has been out for 18 months with a serious knee injury, but he’s on the way back at the perfect time – he played 45 minutes for Liverpool’s U21 side on Monday, the Liverpool Echo reports.
While it would be unfair to demand miracles of the academy graduate straight away, Liverpool’s lack of defenders mean that Flanagan could be phased back into the first team sooner than expected.
The summer signing has been given plenty of chances already this season. Some he has taken, some he has not. His Liverpool record currently stands at seven goals in 21 games, and a couple of horror shows.
Coutinho will be a major miss to an attack which is already without Daniel Sturridge, Danny Ings and Divock Origi, so Benteke really needs to step up and become a consistent match-winner for Klopp.
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