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Rodgers Hints at Squad Rotation

Heading into an especially busy stretch, Brendan Rodgers could look to squad rotation to keep everybody fresh, starting at the back where he has four centre halves capable of starting.

Clive Brunskill

"I just decided to change it," was Brendan Rodgers' rather straightforwardly unilluminating answer when asked why he had decided to drop Kolo Toure, who along with Mamadou Sakho made his way to the bench over the weekend when Liverpool faced Fulham, helping to make way for Daniel Agger and a return to four at the back. Thankfully, when pressed on the issue Rodgers expanded just a little on his initial answer, hinting at the need for a bit of squad rotation heading into a busy month.

"I have said to the players that between now and January we have [at least] one game a week," he added. "The players are working very well and very hard on a daily basis but I need to give oxygen to some players so they can see a light at the end of the tunnel. It is important that I use the players well, [and] Kolo has been sensational since he has been in, but Daniel Agger is a top player. I just need to balance the team out when I can."

Last time out, that "balance" came at Toure and Sakho's expense, and it hints that over the next few weeks Liverpool could see alternating defensive duos, with Martin Skrtel paired with Agger one match and Toure with Sakho the next. However, with Everton coming up next and Liverpool's comfortable dispatching of Fulham, one does wonder just how likely Rodgers is to change up his backline when Liverpool head to Goodison on the 23rd.

Despite talk of his continental ways when he joined Liverpool, Rodgers has so far appeared distinctly British in his use of squad rotation—which is to say there hasn't been a whole lot of it. Last season, Joe Allen could be counted on to start every match despite a shoulder injury that increasingly hurt his game. Until the last few weeks, Steven Gerrard was certain to play every minute of every match. Jordan Henderson has either been a lock to start or a lock to sit on the bench week in and week out with no middle ground.

It will be interesting to see if this talk of using the players he has in the squad and giving everybody a break now and then leads to a meaningful change in what has seemed a very anti-rotation policy for Rodgers at Liverpool. Certainly the club's strength at centre half would suggest it should, but then youngsters like Raheem Sterling and Luis Alberto further up the pitch—not to mention last year's golden boy Joe Allen—seem almost as deserving of semi-regular inclusion, and so far that hasn't been the case.

If not against Everton, though, a stretch of three games in seven days immediately following against bottom half sides Hull, Norwich, and West Ham could see the beginnings of Rodgers' brave new world of squad rotation. Either that or he'll just play Skrtel and Agger until their legs fall off.

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