There were times in seasons gone by when Liverpool would be struggling around November and December time because of a host of injuries to players.
Losing important first-team names would invariably, along with other factors, cost the Reds a shot at the title, or a Champions League position, or whatever objective they had for that particular season.
A few years ago, Liverpool took steps to minimise such issues by implementing a complete sports science division led by some of the best names in that area of sports in the world, including Australian Dr. Brukner and several compatriots of his.
The names have changed now after Brendan Rodgers brought in several of his own staff, including Ryland Morgans as head of conditioning and fitness, but the good work that the club have been doing in this area is continuing to pay dividends.
Impact injuries, bone breaks and other such instances are not always preventable, but the sports fitness department of the club do a lot of work in preempting and avoiding soft tissue and muscle damage—and the success of this is indicated in the lack of such injuries around the first team.
While the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic lurch along with reduced numbers because of seven, eight or even nine injuries to players, Liverpool have now just two players missing from the first-team squad. This is the lowest in the Premier League after only West Brom (one injury).
Italian striker Fabio Borini had a slow start to his Liverpool career, scoring just once (against Gomel in the Europa League) in his first 11 matches. But his absence has been keenly felt nonetheless, with the Reds having few options in the final third.
Borini suffered a fracture in a bone in his foot playing against Manchester United earlier this season in October, a problem which was compounded when he travelled with his country on international duty.
An absence of three months, as reported by BBC Sport in October, means he will not be fit to return to playing until at least mid-January, barring setbacks. Liverpool will hope to have tied up a transfer for at least one forward by then as well, meaning his return to the side need hopefully not be rushed.
In the same match at Anfield, Liverpool lost defender Martin Kelly to a ruptured cruciate ligament injury.
The strong right-back was in fine form at the time of the injury, and he will be disappointed to miss the vast majority of this campaign (if he manages to return before May at all). It could feasibly be next season before Kelly appears in Red again.
Last month, Kelly received an award for his performances during 2012. He gave a short update on his condition at the same time. Via liverpoolfc.com last month:
It's a real honour to receive this award. Huge thanks goes to all LFC fans who voted. I'm working hard to get fit and when I'm back I will continue to do you proud.
Recent Returns and Suspensions
Only long-term absentees Borini and Kelly are absent now, but until even a few weeks ago, there were a few more names on the list.
Pepe Reina was injured on international duty with Spain and missed seven games through injury while Brad Jones came in. Since returning to the first team, Reina has kept three clean sheets in four games and looks to be getting back to form after a poor start to the season.
At right-back, Andre Wisdom came off early in the Europa League draw with Young Boys with a knee knock. Though he has not played since that match, the youngster has been on the bench for the past two league fixtures and should be fully fit to face West Ham if required.
Liverpool's Brazilian defensive midfielder had missed almost the whole season after damaging a thigh muscle against Manchester City in August. This came soon after returning from a season-ending injury, sustained in November 2011, during the summer.
Lucas' return boosted the entire team, but more than that, his exceptional midfield play allowed at least two other players to up their own levels of performance due to being in their more natural roles.
The one downside and additional absence for Liverpool over the near future will be the one-match ban for Luis Suarez after he picked up his fifth booking of the season against Southampton. He will miss the trip to West Ham United.
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