Enrique injury gives Rodgers plenty to consider

Brendan Rodgers 2

Jose Enrique’s spell on the sidelines following knee surgery has left Brendan Rodgers with decisions to make.

The Spaniard made eight appearances this term before requiring an operation that will see him out of action until at least February.

Liverpool are now down to a pair of options at that aren’t truly convincing at left back, Valencia-owned Aly Cissokho and 20-year-old Jon Flanagan.

The French loanee spent time as a wing back in Rodgers’ experimental 3-5-2 formation recently but failed to win any major plaudits, his performance in the first half of the Reds’ 2-0 defeat to Arsenal lacking conviction to the point that he was substituted off at the break.

And Flanagan, a home-grown product of the club’s academy, has shown flashes of what he’s capable in limited displays, including an admirable 90 minutes in the Merseyside Derby, but is still largely an unknown quantity.

Rodgers has now alluded to the possibility of bringing in reinforcements in the January window, with Liverpool facing an area of concern after having had such a positive start to the campaign that sees them in second place on the table.

"It is certainly something that – if Jose is going to be out for a long time – we would have to look at for sure," he told reporters.

"We think Jose will be a few months. It is not a long-term one but will be the new year for sure.

"It is not ideal; you would prefer two in there to really be challenging. Jose is clearly one of the best left-backs in the league and to have him out is a blow."

The conundrum that the Liverpool boss faces in terms of making a move for a left back this winter lies in the situation that will arise upon Enrique’s return, however.

Cissokho doesn’t look to be on track to secure a permanent move to Anfield and Flanagan appears too raw to step into the squad, leaving the Spaniard as the only viable candidate for the starting job at present – and he is of course laid up with injury.

Rodgers could opt for a loan deal to bring in experienced cover to take over until Enrique has recovered, but it is questionable whether a player a step up in quality from Cissokho could be had in this manner.

Naturally, the Northern Irishman’s only other choice would be to make a purchase of significance, an act which would require financial commitment and challenge Enrique’s standing in the squad with an eye towards the future.

The Liverpool boss thus must prioritise – does he value his injured left back so much that putting his Anfield status at risk is not worth making a move? Or does the Reds’ genuine chance for success this campaign mandate that he dip into the market to avoid deploying Cissokho and Flanagan, when Enrique may be available for selection again as soon as February?

Certainly the short-term goals of the club – Champions League football or even the Premier League title - will play a major factor in Rodgers’ choice to stick or twist, and if his current options don’t seem up to par by January, the arrival of a new face on Merseyside to patrol the left flank may well be imminent.

image: © Bernard C

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