With Fabio Borini's broken foot ruling the Italian forward out until January at the earliest, Liverpool's inevitable striker crisis begins in earnest on Saturday when Reading come to Anfield. That match is followed on Thursday by a Europa League tie against Anzhi Makhachkala before Liverpool cross Stanley Park to face Everton next Sunday. Four more matches follow in the next two weeks thanks in part to the Europa League once again and a League Cup clash with Swansea.
With the congested fixture list, many have speculated that youngsters Samed Yesil or Adam Morgan could see action. Some have even suggested moves to the forward line for the likes of Steven Gerrard and Jonjo Shelvey. What few would have expected would be that Luis Suarez would be a legitimate contender to start in all—or at least almost all—of the club's matches over the next few weeks. At least until today.
"I’ve rested him a couple of times knowing the squad we have and the games we have," said Brendan Rodgers, discussing his striker shortage and one remaining senior centre forward, "but like most footballers he wants to play every minute of every game. It is something I need to assess.
"The most important thing is winning games—that is what we need to do and in order to do that as often as we can I need the best players on the field—and Luis will absolutely love playing three times a week. But I still need to try to nurture him because there are so many games to play between now and January.
"And even in January if we bring someone in it may not be on January first, so that is something which, over time, I need to assess."
Rodgers isn't saying that Luis Suarez will start every game; may even be saying that it would be risky to start him in every game. He's just saying that winning comes first, that Suarez would love to start every game, and that that's something he'll have to consider.
Given that referees and the English FA have declared it open season on the Uruguayan, it will be a minor miracle if Suarez makes it to mid-November and Liverpool's next mid-week break if he does play in every match. Then again, given the club's lack of depth up front, any gmae between now and then that Suarez doesn't start in sees Liverpool's chances of winning drop considerably.
To suggest it's a choice with no good answer Rodgers faces would be an understatement, though what's most depressing is that it's a choice almost everyone observing the club knew he would be forced to make at some point this season.