Liverpool FC: How Injuries Will Affect the Rest of the Season
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It seems injuries are becoming the norm for Liverpool. Just six games into the Premiere League season and starters are dropping like flies.
The season looked to be getting even worse, and with a trip to Carrow Road looking like the perfect trap game, the Reds responded with resilience and took their first win of the season against Norwich City.
Granted, Norwich is far from the class of the EPL, but a W on the season with such a depleted squad has to be positive for the Reds' mentality going forward.
Unfortunately, mental fortitude alone can't win matches in the EPL. There are also the physical aspects, and if the season didn't already look daunting enough, it won't get any easier.
Let's examine what each injury means to the squad going forward.
Fantastic video compilation of Leiva's story at Anfield prior to his first major injury.
Lucas Leiva went down before five minutes passed in the second game of the Premiere League season.
This time, a muscle tear in his thigh has sidelined him for up to three months, according to the Daily Mail.
That timeline would place a mid-to-late November return for the Brazilian international, still plenty of time to make an impact on the season.
Lucas impressed in the preseason in Liverpool's North American tour, and made his competitive debut against Gomel for the Europa League opener. While not 100 percent, the former Gremio player looked to be making a full recovery.
His absence has certainly been felt thus far, but not as much as results might let on. Without Lucas for much of last season, Liverpool managed to finish as one of the best defensive units in the EPL, despite finishing eighth on the table.
This season, that run of form on defense has not carried over, as the Reds have already allowed 12 goals after only allowing 40 all of last season, but to attribute that to Lucas being out is unfair since they did better without him last season.
One positive that has come from Lucas' absence has been the revelation of Jonjo Shelvey. He got a few starts under Kenny Dalglish and showed flashes of brilliance last season.
This season, he's looked terrific on the pitch for the Reds and looks to be up to the rigors of EPL play. Had Lucas not gone down, Shelvey likely would not have gotten as much time to prove his quality this early on.
Lucas will be a fine addition when he returns in November, but he might find that his place in the starting 11 won't be as solid as it was before he left with a number of younger midfielders proving to be up to the occasion.
Fabio Borini has not lived up to his billing yet, but still has time to improve.
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Fabio Borini went out at halftime against Manchester United and did not return to the game.
He officially went out with an ankle injury, and given the Reds' recent bad luck with injuries, a fracture was feared, according to ESPN.
In a fortunate turn of events, Borini's injury has apparently amounted to nothing more than a knock and Brendan Rodgers even placed him as a substitute on the team sheet against Norwich City last weekend.
Borini did not get any play time, but it's encouraging for the squad to have him there. The Italian international had featured in every competitive match for Rodgers this season to that point.
Regardless of his injury status, the 21-year-old has not yet provided the offensive spark that many hoped he would.
Borini has looked a deer in the headlights at times in front of goal, and has squandered some game-changing chances already. In his only absence of the season thus far, strike partner Luis Suarez bagged a hat trick.
What that means for Borini remains to be seen. To be fair, he deserves a bit of a grace period to become acclimated to playing in the EPL.
If he doesn't figure it out soon, he might find himself on the bench more often, ankle injury or not, as Liverpool's youngsters continue to seize their opportunities.
Daniel Agger bleeds a different kind of Red.
When Daniel Agger went down against Manchester United, thousands of hearts sank all over the world.
Even United fans realized the significance of such an injury and what it could spell for Liverpool, and for Agger and his career.
Despite trainers urging him to stay down, Agger did everything he could to get back to his feet, but amid the raucous applause he collapsed again and had to be stretchered out.
It was no doubt the turning point in an already heated tie against the Reds' most hated rivals. Liverpool were already playing a man down with Jonjo Shelvey seeing straight red from the referee on what appeared to be a 50/50 challenge.
Early speculation put Agger on a ligament tear and had him sidelined for the remainder of the season. That would've been especially cruel given Lucas Leiva's injury earlier in the season and Martin Kelly's injury in the same match.
To the delight of many supporters, ESPN reported no ligament damage and only bruising to the bone.
Even more to their delight, Agger was given the start against Norwich City last weekend and played a full 90 minutes for Brendan Rodgers.
An end to Agger's season would've likely spelled disaster to the Reds' already struggling back line, but it would've given a chance for Sebastian Coates to finally get regular starting time.
Coates has all of the talent on paper, but as long as Agger and Martin Skrtel remain fit, the young Uruguayan won't get a crack at any significant EPL play.
Unfortunately, where the football gods saw fit to spare Agger, they didn't feel the same way about Martin Kelly.
Martin Kelly had finally started living up to his potential before his injury.
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Things were on the up-and-up for Martin Kelly.
He showed that he had what it took to play at right back last season. He had been selected for the England international squad in the most recent European Championships by Roy Hodgson. He'd even won the starting job for his beloved Reds.
All of that came to a screeching halt against Manchester United, as Kelly came down like a ton of bricks and immediately clutched his right knee.
There wasn't any sort of malicious foul or awkward play on the ball. In what was essentially garbage time, Kelly's body went one way and his right leg stayed planted firmly. He collapsed at Ryan Gigg's feet, but would walk off with assistance from a trainer.
It certainly didn't appear to be as severe as Daniel Agger's injury, which turned out not to be severe at all.
Unfortunately for Kelly, he'll have to fight for all of his spots once more next year.
According to the BBC, the 22-year-old suffered an ACL tear and will be out for at least six months.
Youngster Andre Wisdom filled in for Kelly in last weekend's trip to Carrow Road, and the 19-year-old looked to embrace the opportunity.
It would have been 26-year-old Jose Enrique who should've benefited from Kelly's misfortune, but his lack of form forced Brendan Rodgers to move Glen Johnson to the left back position and promote Kelly on the right.
Rodgers had stern words for Stewart Downing and Enrique following the win against Norwich. He accused the duo of losing focus and not working as hard as they should have, according to ESPN.
Status does not matter. It is what you are like as a player. It doesn't matter how much money you have come for. That doesn't matter to me. I will play a 17-year-old if he fights and he has quality. It is quite easy.
And Rodgers has played a 17-year-old at Downing's position in Raheem Sterling, and now he's started a 19-year-old at Enrique's in Wisdom.
As unfortunate as Kelly's injury is, it appears that Rodgers has a plan going forward. While it may have looked brilliant against Norwich City, they are far from the class that the Reds will have to face as the season carries on.
The injuries in this season thus far have provided a host of younger players the opportunity to prove their quality, and so far a handful have stepped to the occasion including Raheem Sterling, Jonjo Shelvey, Suso and now Wisdom.
All four of them have, to this point, proven more effective than the likes of Downing, Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique. All of the four youngsters combined haven't come close to costing as much as any one of the former starters from King Kenny's regime.