With Jose Enrique about to go under the knife to correct a long-standing knee problem, Brendan Rodgers has choices to make on the left-flank and one of the biggest ones will come this weekend during the first Merseyside Derby of the year. While fullback Aly Cissokho was thought to be the first choice replacement for the crocked Spaniard, earlier this morning the boss talked about handing the responsibility to local lad Jon Flanagan.
The 20-year old, a product of Liverpool’s academy, made his first Premier League start of the season in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal last month. Although he was substituted during the match, Rodgers has said that this was more down to a shift in mentality than a problem on the player’s part. “He did very well against Arsenal. He didn’t do anything wrong in that game” said the boss, who continued, “When he came off, it was simply because we wanted to be more offensive as we were chasing the game.”
Earlier in the month, Flanagan discussed the possibility of going out on loan to find more regular game time, but with the fixture list heating up over the coming weeks and Enrique not expected back until late January, there’s a very real possibility that he’ll be seeing his fair share of action – an idea Rodgers seems comfortable with. “Jon is a young player who will never let you down,” enthused Rodgers. “Whether Jon has played at right-back or left-back he has never let the team down.”
If the youngster is included over the more seasoned Cissokho, on-loan from Spanish side Valencia, questions will certainly be asked of the Frenchman’s future on Merseyside after some less than assured performances earned him his fair share of detractors. Although he was brought in as cover for Enrique, a reminder from the boss that we have other options to fill that slot will certainly be a wake-up call for the 26-year old and could, in a roundabout way anyways, motivate a player we have yet to see the best of.