Brendan Rodgers has revealed in the press-match build up against Tottenham that midfielder Lucas Leiva “will miss a bit of time”.
The Brazilian could miss actions up to a month, which means Liverpool will be without their key midfield anchorman during this crucial phase of their season.
Key player he has turned out to be, but things were certainly different at the start of the season. Lucas is loved by the fans but series of injuries in recent years meant he was failing to perform to his earlier best.
There are even rumours about him leaving the club, with host of Italian clubs were being linked with a move during the summer.
The past three months, however, have been different. He has re-established himself as a regular in the side and his impressive form has helped Liverpool rediscover their mojo after a stuttering start to the campaign.
He is set to be missing several key matches for Liverpool during the month of February and early March. Starting with Tottenham on Tuesday night, Liverpool have crucial games including an FA Cup tie with Crystal Palace, Europa League fixtures with Besiktas and Premier League clash with Manchester City.
Having not signed a defensive midfield cover in January, Liverpool will have to find a solution to fill the void left by the Brazilian’s injury.
The most obvious solution is Joe Allen. The Welshman has been usually used in place of Lucas, but he has hardly been effective.
Allen, however, is confident of finishing the season strongly and is hoping to play a major role in helping his team achieve their target.
“But my season has been broken up by minor injuries and each time it takes you a little while to get back to the level you want to be at,” he said to Liverpool Echo.
“It’s been frustrating but hopefully I can stay fit now and help us finish the season strongly. I’m confident that if I stay fit and get myself in this team I can help and show what I can do.
“We will give everything to get into the top four. We have ground to make up and work to do but it starts in our next game against Spurs.”
Allen is a good player than many give him credit for, but he is certainly not a like for like replacement for Lucas, mainly because of his physicality.
If Rodgers is to continue with his 3-4-3 system, and its variation, it is essential to have a physically imposing central midfielder.
That’s why Emre Can could be a good option.
The German U-21 international has produced a string of outstanding performances in recent weeks and has impressed Liverpool fans with his drive, determination, composure and strength.
The best feature about his game is his confidence on the ball. He is good at retaining possession and has a wide range of passing ability as well.
Emre Can’s radar is noisy, but outside CB is more similar to FB than CB to me sooo this is the template you get pic.twitter.com/qXfZev5sfm
— Left Shark (@mixedknuts) February 9, 2015
He is tactically strong (read as good positional sense) but is not shy at going forward and having a shot at goal at every given opportunity.
But will Rodgers take that gamble?
Can has brought a solidity in Liverpool’s defence alongside Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho that has seen the club not conceding from open play since the New Year’s Day.
Is there any need to disturb that balance? Could Lovren, Johnson or say Manquillo provide the same assured presence at the back?
Liverpool’s recent form has been built on strong defensive foundation, but midfield is one area where games could be won or lost, especially against big teams.
Over to you, Brendan!