Giving the thumbs-up: Rodgers will be hoping that a number of his under-pressure players shine against Swansea
Liverpool travel to South Wales to take on Swansea City at the Liberty stadium in front of the live TV cameras on Monday night, and a number of Brendan Rodgers’ side will have a point to prove in the Principality.
And ahead of the fixture against Michael Laudrup’s men, we take a look at just who those Reds players under pressure are…
The shaven-headed centre back was brought in from the cold for Liverpool’s last Premier League fixture against champions Manchester United at Anfield, with the Slovakia international replacing the injured Kolo Toure at the heart of the Reds’ back four for their impressive 1-0 win.
And with the Ivorian still likely to be absent for the Reds’ tricky-looking trip to face Swansea on Monday night, the 28-year-old is set to keep his place alongside Daniel Agger in the centre of the Merseysiders’ defence.
However, Skrtel knows that he will need to carry on turning in displays like he produced against the Red Devils, when the central defender was Liverpool’s man of the match, if he is to remain in the Reds’ starting lineup going forward, especially following the club’s recent double acquisition of centre-backs Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori on transfer deadline day.
Not only that, but Skrtel will be desperate to prove a point to manager Brendan Rodgers after the Northern Irishman dropped him from the team following last January’s shock 3-2 FA Cup fourth-round loss to League One Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park, with veteran defender Jamie Carragher being brought into replace the axed player for the rest of that campaign.
The Reds’ first-choice left back has barely put a foot wrong since arriving at Anfield from Newcastle United for just £7 million two years ago, during which time the popular Spaniard has racked up 117 appearances in total for the Reds.
However, Enrique has faced virtually no competition for his first-team spot during the past two seasons on Merseyside, although that has now changed following the arrival of versatile defender Mamadou Sakho for £15m from Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on transfer deadline day.
And with the suspicion growing around the club that Rodgers is keen to utilise the highly rated France international at left back this season, as opposed to in his more favoured centre-back position, the 27-year-old knows that he must continue to catch the eye as an attacking full back if he wishes to remain in the starting XI.
The promising England Under-21 international captain is now set for a long run in the Liverpool first team following the ankle injury suffered by regular right-back Glen Johnson against Manchester United at Anfield earlier this month.
Johnson is now expected to be out of action for as long as 10 weeks, meaning his compatriot has a wonderful opportunity to establish himself in the side and prove to his manager that he does have the skill, temperament and concentration to make it at the club, starting in front of a live TV audience at the Liberty stadium on Monday night.
Wisdom, 20, will no doubt come under pressure for his spot in the side from England international Martin Kelly, but with the latter having only just recovered himself from a serious knee-ligament injury that he sustained last September, also against United, the youngster is set to be given the first chance to stake his claim to be Johnson’s replacement at Anfield going forward.
The Wales international is expected to have recovered from the slight hamstring tweak he suffered against Notts County in the Capital One Cup last month by the time Liverpool travel to play the Swans on Monday night. If selected, the holding midfield player will be itching to prove his growing number of doubters wrong on his return to his former club.
Allen has endured a tough start to life at Anfield following his eyebrow-raising £15 million move from Swansea last August, a transfer incidentally that at the time made the 23-year-old the most expensive footballer in the history of Welsh football, until you know who’s recent 100 million euro move to Real Madrid that is!
Either way, the pressure is still very much on the talented Welshman’s shoulders going into this season following his injury-interrupted debut campaign on Merseyside last time out, and what better stage to get his stop-start Reds career back on track that at the Liberty stadium?
Liverpool’s £7.7 million summer acquisition from Liga outfit Celta de Vigo surprised many of the club’s fans with his eye-catching displays for the Merseysiders during preseason. He has been equally impressive on occasions for Brendan Rodgers’ side in their opening three Premier League outings as well.
However, with in-form striker Daniel Sturridge unlikely to face the Swans after failing to recover from the thigh injury that kept the England international out of his country’s recent World Cup qualifying double header, the pressure will really be on the diminutive forward in South Wales.
Equally, though, this could be the ideal opportunity for Aspas to demonstrate to his manager that he is more than capable of being handed the responsibility of leading the line by himself in the absence of Sturridge and the suspended Luis Suarez, and netting his first-ever competitive goal for his new team at the Liberty.