Brondby vs. Liverpool: How the Reds Will Line Up in 1st Preseason Friendly
Just a few short days after the 2014 Brazil World Cup, the domestic football calendar is about to resume. Liverpool's first match of the new season is a preseason friendly against Brondby in Denmark on Wednesday.
With none of the Reds' World Cup stars back on club duty yet—though new signing Rickie Lambert has, according to James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo, cut short his holiday to begin training—Wednesday represents a good chance for Brendan Rodgers to field some of the youngsters in his squad.
Liverpool's last visit to Denmark was back in 1998, and the presence of former Brondby defender Daniel Agger will ensure that the fixture on Wednesday is sure to be popular with the Copenhagen locals.
Here is our projected starting XI for Liverpool.
Goalkeeper: Brad Jones
Brad Jones missed out on Ange Postecoglou's Australia squad for the World Cup in Brazil and will likely start in goal on Wednesday.
Right-Back: Andre Wisdom
Almost two full years from an encouraging stint in the Liverpool first team in Rodgers' first few months at Anfield, Andre Wisdom returns to the squad after a productive loan spell with Derby County last season.
Rodgers will likely use the preseason period to gauge the progress and potential of his young right-backs, with Wisdom fighting it out with Martin Kelly to be the next starting option on the right flank.
Left-Back: Jose Enrique
Following a good few months on the sideline with a long-term knee injury, Jose Enrique has kept his spirits high and his fans entertained with his shenanigans on social media.
But with Rodgers in the market for a left-back—Sevilla's Alberto Moreno is rumored to be close to signing, according to Alan Nixon of The Mirror—and Jon Flanagan impressing in his surprise return to the first-team fold last season, Enrique will need to grasp his opportunity to perform over preseason.
Centre-Back: Tiago Ilori
An encouraging half-season loan spell with Granada has only served to enhance Tiago Ilori's burgeoning reputation as one of the most intelligent young centre-backs around.
He will face competition from fellow young prospects like Lloyd Jones, as well as Wisdom and Kelly, to impress Rodgers over preseason. And even then, he'll have Martin Skrtel to fight off for a first-team place.
Centre-Back: Daniel Agger
Agger is expected to skipper the Liverpool side taking to the Brondby Stadium on Wednesday, as he makes a long-awaited return to his boyhood club, which he left in January 2006 to sign for Rafael Benitez's Liverpool.
But it won't just be an emotional return for Agger; he's also subject to strong speculation linking him with a move away from Liverpool, according to Vaishali Bhardwaj of Metro. He'll be looking to impress while Mamadou Sakho is still away on vacation after France's World Cup campaign.
Holding Midfielder: Emre Can
Since signing for Liverpool earlier this summer, Emre Can has had his praises sung by none other than former Reds Dietmar Hamann and Sami Hyypia, who have further upped the expectations on the former Bayer Leverkusen midfielder.
Can will be looking to show Liverpool fans that they can be excited about the future by hitting the ground running on Wednesday.
Central Midfielder: Joe Allen
In front of Can in the Liverpool midfield will likely be Joe Allen, whose performances last season improved as he regained his form and confidence.
With a whole raft of midfield signings rumored to be in the pipeline at Anfield, Allen faces tough competition to stay in the first team this season. A midfield duo of Can and Allen promises intelligence and movement.
Attacking Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho
How would Brazil have fared in the World Cup on home soil if they had the flair and trickery of Philippe Coutinho this summer?
That's a question that will never be fully answered, but one thing's for certain: Brazil's loss is certainly Liverpool's gain. Coutinho will have the chance to wreak havoc on the Brondby defence and fight off competition from imminent signing Lazar Markovic, via James Orr of The Independent.
Right Forward: Jordon Ibe
Liverpool may have lost Luis Suarez to Barcelona in the offseason, but in Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, they still have two of England's brightest young attacking talents.
In reserve, itching for a chance to impress, is Jordon Ibe, who has the opportunity to stake his claim in Rodgers' squad this season over the preseason period. He'll be eager to show that the hype around him as the Liverpool academy's next best thing is fully justified.
Left Forward: Suso
A year on loan at Almeria after breaking into the Reds' first team in 2012 has helped Suso improve his game; he's said so himself to Liverpool's official website.
Before his fellow forwards report back to Melwood for preseason training, Suso will be looking to show that his year back in Spain was a productive one. Rodgers will be keeping a keen eye on his progress.
Striker: Fabio Borini
Also back in the Liverpool fold after a season on loan is Fabio Borini, whose performances at Sunderland earned him the club's Young Player of the Year award, as they avoided relegation from the Premier League.
He has since been linked with an £8 million return to the Stadium of Light, according to Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail. Given Liverpool's current striker shortage before Sturridge and Co. are due to report back to training, Rodgers will be looking for performances that compel him to keep Borini at Anfield for the coming season.