News that Fabio Borini will be out until the end of November was, as Noel mentioned yesterday, more or less the type of thing that most of us had been expecting since the transfer window closed at the end of August. He wasn't blowing anybody away so far, but he had a track record of staying fit and, at absolute minimum, was a live body as part of an attack that had few post-puberty squad members to call on. Borini's lack of goals was irksome, but his confirmed absence is positively frightening.
Once he returned from a niggling ankle injury it was generally accepted that he'd slide back into the starting eleven, and now that we know he won't be until mid-November at the earliest, we've got some wondering to do about how Brendan Rodgers fills a spot in attack that'd have likely been filled by the young Italian striker he favors.
Consecutive starts against Norwich and Stoke City make this the easy-seeming choice--in both matches he was composed and confident, and while he struggled with the physicality Tony Pulis' hooligan presented, he still managed to have a positive influence in possession. Whether or not a spot across the front three is his best might be up for debate, but what's not is that he's going to have a large part to play somewhere this season.
Steven Gerrard/Jonjo Shelvey
Of the two there's been more talk about Gerrard in a wide role; there's been plenty that have called for this type of move for the captain for a long time, and Borini's absence would allow for an extended run for the captain in a different role, one that would ask something different of him. But Shelvey's got to be involved in that discussion as well, especially considering that he's featured there from time to time in the recent past. With Nuri Sahin looking like a locked-on starter since the West Brom fixture in the League Cup, a move for one of Shelvey or Gerrard would allow both to feature.
Samed Yesil/Adam Morgan
Again, there's similarities between two of the other choices, with young, unproven strikers on the fringe of the first team. Yesil would seem to have the upper hand and would be my choice, but Morgan's a sentimental favorite given his success through the youth ranks and the fact that he's a local boy hoping to make it good. On objective evidence I don't know how you'd pick Morgan over Yesil, especially if we're talking straight-up center forward. Morgan's played on the right under Rodolfo Borrell and has a leg up there, although if we're talking about Suarez staying centrally, I don't think it's likely for either.
That news of Borini's injury broke on the same day Pacheco once again voiced his discontent about not breaking through seemed fortuitous for the permanently purgatoried Spaniard, and while he's apparently with the reserves for now, a trip back to the senior squad could be in the making. We've learned to tread lightly when it comes to his future, though, and any proclamations about this being his chance might be overeager and inaccurate.
HA! Jokesters. But really, there's maybe a chance, even though I'm still not convinced by arguments that rely on, "he didn't crumble into dust and blow away" after coming on against Stoke. Congrats, Joe, you've been injured since being a bit-player in France and managed to not do that for more than ten minutes. Ready-made replacement.
Left out again when Stoke came to Anfield, there's probably a handful of minutes for Downing as Liverpool compete on three fronts again after the break, but it'd be optimistic to expect the type of display he turned in against Udinese during the first half to become the norm. He's envelopes number two and three.