Will 'keep players fresh' approach allow Liverpool youngster to debut?

Liverpool spent around £6m to prise Tiago Ilori away from Sporting Lisbon, but he has yet to taste first team action at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said that his reason for the defensive changes in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Fulham was to keep players fresh and to ‘give them oxygen.’

Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure were left out after having a sustained spell in the side with Martin Skrtel’s form at the back rendering him seemingly undroppable – and with Liverpool returning to a back four with only two centre-halves required, Daniel Agger was inevitably going to be the next man to get the nod.

However, with all four of the centre-halves named fit, is there going to be an opportunity for Tiago Ilori to make his first team bow for the club? Ilori seems to be a bit of a forgotten man in terms of the make-up of the Liverpool squad since he joined the club on transfer deadline day from Sporting Lisbon – the same day Sakho arrived from PSG.

However, you could view that as a positive for Liverpool that they feel they have so much strength in central defensive areas that they have yet to feel the need to call upon the 20-year-old they bought for around £6m.

He has featured for the under 21 side – he has made two appearances, playing 90 minutes in both high-scoring games against Sunderland and Middlesbrough’s youngsters.

The closest he has got to featuring for the first team is by being an unused substitute against Sunderland and Crystal Palace in the Premier League so far this season.

But what are the chances of him making a first team appearance in the coming weeks and months? Liverpool will not want to underestimate any opposition but as fixtures get a little more congested they may have an opportunity to give him a run out against sides they are expected to beat.

There is a small period at the start of December when Liverpool have a trip to Hull City, followed by home games against Norwich City and West Ham United.

With the Christmas and New Year period a little busier than what the Reds have become accustomed to this season, if Rodgers freshens up his side there is an opportunity for Ilori to at least get on in one of these games.

A lot will depend on the situation of each game, though.

image: © froderamone

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