With Liverpool having jetted down in Jakarta on Wednesday for the first part of the Reds’ preseason tour to the Far East and Australia, the Merseysiders are already busy preparing for Saturday’s encounter against an Indonesian XI.
And we are here to suggest just what lineup head coach Brendan Rodgers will select for the friendly at the Gelora Bung Karno National Stadium in what will be the first-ever match that the club have played in the country.
However, with further warm-up fixtures still to come Down Under against Melbourne Victory on July 24, followed by the final leg of the trip to Bangkok to take on the Thailand National team on July 28, Rodgers will have a lot of opportunities with which to experiment with his squad of players ahead of the kickoff to the new Premier League season on Aug 17.
So this is the likely XI, plus substitutes, that Rodgers will choose for this weekend’s encounter in a 4-2-2-1-1 formation.
However, in truth the Belgium international was barely called upon and will expect to be tested more on Saturday in the Indonesian capital as he seeks to secure the No. 1 spot for the new season ahead of Jose Manuel Reina.
The England international did not start the friendly with Preston, but Rodgers is sure to want to give his versatile full-back a run-out in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon, although on the left-hand side as opposed to in his more favoured right-sided role so as to allow youngster Andre Wisdom to feature.
Another who did not make the starting XI at Deepdale, the utility player should slot into his preferred right-back position against the Indonesians.
The 20-year-old will be hoping to prove to his manager that rather than offloading him to Fulham this summer, which Alan Nixon of the Mirror touts as a possible move, the Northern Irishman should instead keep hold of the England Under-21 international.
Having finally made a successful recovery from the knee ligament injury he sustained playing against Manchester United, Kelly is in line to be handed his first start since last September in the Indonesian capital, albeit as a central defender as opposed to in his normal right-back role.
And although the 23-year-old is unlikely to play the full 90 minutes, it will still be a rewarding exercise for both the player and the Reds’ medical staff to see how Kelly pulls up after his first outing in 10 months.
Despite intense speculation of late linking the rugged Slovakia international with a move away from Anfield this summer after the defender lost his place at the back to veteran Jamie Carragher at the turn of the year, the 28-year-old is still very much a Liverpool player.
As such, Rodgers will have pencilled Martin Skrtel in to partner Daniel Agger in central defence next season, and with the Dane having started Saturday’s friendly at Preston, this weekend will be the turn of his partner to brush a few of the cobwebs away before the big kickoff in a month’s time.
Liverpool’s Mr. Reliable and an absolutely vital cog in Rodgers’ setup, without whom the manager's free-flowing passing game would not be able to function properly.
Consequently, all connected with the club will be happy to see Lucas Leiva once again anchoring midfield against the Indonesian XI, putting out opposition fires in front of his back four before setting in motion Reds counterattacks.
Liverpool’s Captain Fantastic should make his comeback on Saturday from the shoulder problem that ultimately brought a premature end to his season in the previous campaign, with Steven Gerrard requiring surgery to cure the longstanding problem earlier this summer.
However, by all accounts the operation was a success, and despite being rested for last weekend’s trip to Deepdale, Rodgers will still want his inspirational skipper back for this opening match of their preseason tour, albeit in a more withdrawn role than usual so as not to overexert the 33-year-old before the real business gets underway next month.
Having not been handed the chance to start against Preston last Saturday, the Reds’ new man from Sevilla is set to be given his first-team debut at the Gelora Bung Karno National Stadium in his favoured left-sided role, and the young Spaniard will be sure to want to impress his new manager and teammates ahead of Stoke City’s visit to Anfield on Aug 17.
And if the 20-year-old can turn in an eye-catching display in Jakarta, who knows, maybe he can make the left wing his own in the new campaign….
The England international came out swinging on Wednesday, with Phil Thomas of The Sun reporting the player's declarations that he wanted to stay at Anfield next season and fight for his place in the team, so when better to start than immediately against the Indonesians on Saturday for the hit-and-miss wide man.
The 28-year-old, who actually prefers operating from the right as it enables him to cut in and shoot using his stronger left foot, is no stranger to stories linking him with a move away from Liverpool, but the winger will still want to shine for obvious reasons this weekend.
Having now made a full recovery from the niggling thigh injury that restricted his appearances in the second half of last season and tested the problem area out with a second-half cameo at Preston on Saturday, the speedster is sure to be given a start in Indonesia, possibly in a new role in the “hole” just off a lone front man.
As with doubts continuing over the future of wantaway striker Luis Suarez, Rodgers knows that he must try out as many attacking combinations as possible in preseason so as to prepare for the worst-case scenario of life without Suarez.
The Reds’ recent £7 million capture from Celta de Vigo began life as a Liverpool player on the bench last Saturday at Deepdale, although it did not take the Spaniard long to make an impact, curling home the visitors’ fourth goal from 25 yards in what was an impressive second-half performance by the 25-year-old.
As a result, Rodgers will hand the striker his first start for the club this weekend in the Indonesian capital in place of fellow front man Fabio Borini, with both strikers currently in a two-way battle to impress the Liverpool manager ahead of the new Premier League season and get the nod to partner Daniel Sturridge in attack against Stoke next month, once the Englishman has fully recovered from his ankle injury that is.
Pepe Reina (GK)
Jack Robinson (LB)
Kolo Toure (CB)
Daniel Agger (CB)
John Flanagan (RB)
Jay Spearing (CM)
Jordan Henderson (CM)
Joe Allen (CM)
Oussama Assaidi (LW)
Jordon Ibe (LW)
Philippe Coutinho (AM)
Fabio Borini (ST)