How Liverpool's disciplinary worries could be used as a positive over the busy period

With three players who'd be considered amongst the starters in Liverpool's XI at the present time on four yellow cards, there could be a chance of others getting an opportunity if they pick up another caution.

Liverpool have three players that are walking a proverbial tightrope over the festive period with Mario Balotelli, Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel all on four yellow cards, meaning another yellow prior to the New Year will bring about a one-game ban.

It is a crucial period for Liverpool. Having been knocked out of the Champions League, and slipping into the bottom half of the table after their seventh defeat of the season in the Premier League at the hands of Manchester United, means that Brendan Rodgers is facing an uphill battle to try and turn around the side's season, and could do with all of his players available for the festive period. 

It begins with a Capital One Cup quarter final visit to Bournemouth, which the Reds can ill-afford to lose, as the pressure has been intensifying on the Liverpool boss following the poor start which came immediately after a season where they challenged for the Premier League title.

What follows that are games against Arsenal, Burnley and Swansea City in the Premier League before Leicester City visit Anfield on New Years' Day.

With Daniel Sturridge sidelined through injury, they could perhaps do with Balotelli keeping his temper in check - not to mention there is a disciplinary charge hanging over him after posts he made on social media. Though Rickie Lambert was brought in in the summer, and got on the scoresheet twice in as many games during his spell in the side, he has struggled to get into the game - but given the close proximity of games anyway, he is likely to play some sort of role.

Gerrard's picking up a yellow card could actually make things easier for Brendan Rodgers as he looks to manage his game time, and will probably be forced out of any difficult decision when it comes to resting him for one of the games over Christmas - though he will lose any impact the Reds' talisman can have off the bench. 

But it's one area of the park where Liverpool seem to have plenty of options with Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson all known playing through the middle.

Then there is Martin Skrtel, at the heart of their defence. He has only missed a couple of games this season through injury this term but for a back line that has conceded so many goals this season, his place has never seemed under threat, so it will be interesting to see how the back line would do in his absence - especially with Mamadou Sakho available again after a thigh injury.

It could be a period where Liverpool find out a lot more about the individuals that haven't featured as much this season, and how they can fit into the team. It is a time when other players surely have to get their chance, with the likes of Sakho, Can and Markovic all at least getting one opportunity from the start.

It might be the period when there is a formula that gets stumbled upon and it works. But after that, it can't be used as a false dawn, it has to be used as a springboard.

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