Given the amount of time he's been around the first-team setup, it's hard to believe that Martin Kelly is still just 23 years old. When healthy, he was on the fringes of the starting eleven or in it; he's made appearances under four different Liverpool managers since making his debut in 2008, and the past three seasons in particular have seen the young defender feature regularly at fullback. Talk of a more permanent shift to central defense grew ahead of this season, but a setback in his recovery from a knee injury suffered in September of last year has meant that a permanent shift anywhere had to be put on hold.
It's understandably been discouraging for a player who would have likely had plenty of minutes given Glen Johnson's own injury, but Kelly has drawn inspiration from Lucas's recovery, one which involved setbacks of a similar nature:
"Lucas has come back successfully. He had a thigh problem after his ACL injury, so that shows how tough a character he is. He's given me advice in terms of how to take the rehab and how to get over the barrier of throwing yourself back into tackles and getting over the initial injury. He's been good with that as a senior player and it's more about dealing with that yourself in the end.
"He's doing really well at the minute, he's just got his first call back to the Brazil squad and I wish him all the best for that. He's the type of character who just gets on with things and so he's the type of person you want in your dressing room. You want to be sharing a dressing room with Lucas, because you know that when he pulls the shirt on, like the rest of the lads, he's going to give it 100 per cent."
That his return coincides with Johnson's is an unfortunate wrinkle, but with fullback fitness and form proving a bugbear for Liverpool in recent seasons, the depth is more than welcome. Any talk of a move to central defense--at least short-term--will certainly be shelved, however, and more concerning over the course of the coming season will be fitness rather than playing time.
Like Lucas, Martin Kelly will need a chance to build his way toward match fitness for a season, and then hopefully benefit from a full preseason to be near his pre-injury levels around this time next year.