Predicted Liverpool XI without Sturridge - £25m man to make his debut?

Brendan Rodgers 2

The England striker's injury could prompt another change in formation for Brendan Rodgers.

News that Daniel Sturridge could miss up to three weeks with a thigh injury has produced another conundrum for Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers.

How the Northern Irishman must be jumping with joy that he brought Mario Balotelli to Anfield for just £16 million this summer - and even slightly relieved that Fabio Borini is still on board with the Reds.

If Rodgers wants to persist with the diamond formation that served his side so well when they beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-0, both could be in line to start - unless Rickie Lambert deputises for Sturridge for his first start of the season.

But the likelihood is that the Liverpool boss may want to change his formation while 25-year-old Sturridge is out.

Rodgers' back four should stay the same (unless Martin Skrtel returns to fitness) - but Lambert's relative lack of mobility, as well as doubt over Borini's long-term future on Merseyside, may persuade him to change to a 4-3-3 with more creative players out wide.

Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen, who has performed relatively well so far this season, should frequent the midfield, while Raheem Sterling seems undroppable at the moment - so should play either down the left or right.

That leaves one space - on the opposite flank to Sterling. The choices are Philippe Coutinho, Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana.

All three could do a job against Aston Villa - and then FC Ludogorets in the Champions League - but Rodgers may want to hand Lallana his Liverpool debut, if not just to get the £25 million man into action as soon as possible.

Markovic has already made substitute appearances for the Reds this season but his relative youth means throwing him into the starting XI is not necessarily a priority right now. Coutinho, meanwhile, is unbeatable on his day - but his day hasn't quite come so far this term, with his form far from his best three games into the Premier League campaign.

With Liverpool's summer signings, though, the possibility are plentiful. Star striker Sturridge will no doubt be missed - but Rodgers has a number of options to replace him with.

Predicted Liverpool XI without Sturridge: Mignolet, Moreno, Skrtel, Lovren, Manquillo, Gerrard, Allen, Henderson, Lallana, Balotelli, Sterling.

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