Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has moved to praise the pre-season performances of Sebastian Coates, following the centre-back’s impressive outings during the side’s USA tour
The 23-year-old Uruguayan has struggled to make his mark at Anfield since signing from boyhood club Nacional in August 2011, appearing in just 12 Premier League games over the past three campaigns, while showing little of the promise which first saw him brought to England.
However, after being sidelined for much of last season by a knee injury, the 15-times capped international would regain his form and fitness during a loan spell at his former club in the second-half of 2013-14, demonstrating enough improvement seal a spot on the Celeste World Cup squad.
Returning to regularly feature in the lineup this summer, the once-highly-rated prospect has been one of the surprises of pre-season thus far, his form earning widespread plaudits and pushing him back into his boss's plans.
‘He has done very well over pre-season. He's a player that played in the team when I first came into the club,’ Rodgers told the club’s official website.
‘He played in some of the league and European games then was out of the team. He was very unfortunate to have a bad injury that put him out for a while.
‘He's done really, really well in pre-season. He's a big boy, but he can play football - he has a lovely touch, lovely technique, can pass the ball and can be aggressive.
'He's been at the club for a few years, so I think the question for Sebastian will be whether he is going to get enough games that will satisfy his own personal need, because he's a talent - there's no question about that.
‘He's a real good guy as well, a humble man, he never cries about not playing. He accepts as a professional that he's not going to play in every game.
‘But he has worked hard at training to get fit after his injury last season and he now looks fit. He has done well in the games and we'll see what the rest of the summer holds.’
Having looked set to leave Liverpool at the start of the summer, after appearing a relative afterthought, Coates has done well for himself to get to this point, but he still faces a real battle to see minutes at Anfield this season.
Behind new £20million signing Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Agger and Kolo Toure in the pecking order, the latter pair’s potential departures could help ease concerns, but competition for places nevertheless remains fierce in a side which expects to be challenging for the title and in Europe.
That said, with a deep squad needed for fighting on all fronts, Coates could prove a valuable fill-in for when the fixtures start to pile up, but it remains unrealistic to expect serious game time at this stage, no matter how remarkable his summer form.