Liverpool FC: Reds Who Will Get the Chance to Impress in the Europa League
Liverpool FC are once again in Europa League action, and they have been since early August.
The Reds will face Young Boys, Udinese and Anzhi Makhachkala in Group A, and so as not to overwork his star players, Brendan Rodgers will likely be offering plenty of his young stars a chance to shine.
Suso is likely to be one of them; an 18-year-old star in the making who is itching to get off the Reserves team and onto the big stage. While the Europa League isn't the big stage, it's a great place for him and his teammates to show what they're made of.
The group games will be a great place for Rodgers to test his youngsters, and some of his older charges may need to prove themselves as well.
Martin Kelly is the future of the Liverpool defense, and Brendan Rodgers knows that already.
Someone who doesn't is Roy Hodgson.
The England defense has been a revolving door in recent tournaments because of age and injuries catching up to great players. Kelly made his one and only appearance for the senior side in May in a friendly against Norway, and he was also called up to Euro 2012, replacing the injured Gary Cahill.
But during the internationals earlier this month, Kelly was left off Hodgson's roster. Hodgson and England won't be relying on John Terry much longer, but Kelly still has quite a bit of competition to stave off to claim his spot.
Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka have both impressed in recent months, but Kelly has more to offer going forward than either of them.
He needs to show Hodgson what he's missing.
Brad Jones won the respect of Liverpool fans last season with a heroic performance in the 2-1 FA Cup semifinal victory over rivals Everton at Wembley. He won their hearts several months earlier following the death of his six-year-old son Luca after a battle with leukemia.
The Australian keeper came to Liverpool two years ago, and many fans wondered why. Why would Pepe Reina need a backup?
Well, this season, Pepe Reina just might need some backup.
Some rest in the early Europa League games could do the usually dependable Spanish keeper some good, and Jones will be ready to take his chance.
If, for whatever reason, the rest doesn't do Pepe any good, Jones may be needed more than he thinks. If he wants that responsibility, now's the time to earn it.
Liverpool's defense is in transition at the moment, and if Uruguayan centre-back Sebastian Coates wants to be a part of Brendan Rodgers' plans, he needs to prove his worth.
Most of Coates' action last season came in the League Cup, so the Europa League shouldn't be a tough transition for him. At 6'6", the 21-year-old towers over opponents, and set plays or a momentary lapse in defense can make all the difference in the world in a tight game.
Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel have both been prone to either errors or injuries, and with a stuttering offense, Liverpool's defense needs to be rock solid.
And, if Coates could do this a few more times, it wouldn't hurt anything.
Dani Pacheco has been with Liverpool for a few years now, but he has never had an extended run in the first team.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder's best moment for the Reds actually came in Europa League action when he provided the cross for David N'Gog's winner at Anfield against Unirea.
Liverpool might well face a team of defenders in the early group games, and a pacey, tricky winger like Pacheco could be the key to unlocking them and scoring an early goal.
But the Spaniard is on his last chance on Merseyside now. Pacheco will likely get a good run of games in the Europa League which may carry over into the Premier League, and if he doesn't impress, he could be sent packing in January.
Suso is probably the player every Liverpool fan wants to see in the starting XI. The young Spanish forward has done nothing but score goals for the Liverpool Reserves, and that kind of production is lacking in the first team in a big way.
Many teams will be content to let the Reds have possession and invite them to break down their defense, and taking advantage of the opportunities you get is the key to defeating that system.
Suso just has a nose for goal, and Brendan Rodgers, his charges and the Liverpool fans want nothing more than to see him score his first first-team Liverpool goal as soon as possible.
Joe Cole is still at Liverpool. If I'm still saying that in February, it better be because he lit up the Europa League and sent the Reds flying into the knockout stages.
Cole was supposed to be the best buy of the 2010 summer transfer window, but it hasn't worked out that way, as the former England and Chelsea star was unimpressive in his first season and was loaned out to Lille for his second.
Now back at Anfield, Liverpool's No. 10 has been sidelined twice due to a niggling hamstring injury.
Brendan Rodgers was eager to bring his former player back to Merseyside from the moment he took the reins at Liverpool, and only he will know why.
But if and when Cole gets back in the action he creates and scores goals for the Reds, no one will be complaining too much.
At least, I'll try to stop.
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