With left back having been a position of near-constant concern for Liverpool for, well, pretty much ever, many fans have eagerly watched the development of Jack Robinson. Considered one of the best left back prospects in England a couple of years ago before his leg injury and the rise of Luke Shaw last year, Robinson has the potential to settle what's been a source of constant worry for Liverpool.
After last year was mostly a loss thanks to his injury, this season was a critical one for the development of Robinson. Liverpool's staff decided that the best thing for him was to assure as much playing time as they could get him, so they arranged a loan to Blackpool, a club that the Reds have had success working with in the past. So far, the decision would have to be judged a success for the young fullback.
So far this season, Robinson has played in 21 league matches and two cup matches for the Tangerines, with all but his debut at the club coming as starts. He's performed quite well in all phases, with a pair of assists earned through his charging-buffalo runs down the left flank followed by sharp, low crosses that he directs through traffic quite well. On defense, Robinson reads the flow of play well, repositioning himself with a fluid ease that belies his youth. This results in him being able to cut off runs and generate interceptions very, very well for a fullback.
The problem for Robinson this season has been a matter of discipline. Thanks to a pair of red cards, he's missed five matches via suspension, including a four-match ban after a particularly rash challenge that cost him the entire month of November. With four yellow cards to his name, it's only a matter of time before he's forced to sit in the stands again. At the tender age of 20 and relative inexperience, that's not completely shocking, but it's something that Robinson is going to have to work out of his game before it becomes a glaring problem down the line.
Thanks to the success of this loan so far, it definitely looks as though Robinson has a place in the squad in the future, unless Liverpool decide to purchase a left back like Jetro Willems in the near future. In fact, with Aly Cissokho only on loan and Jose Enrique quickly approaching permacrocked status, Robinson could be in line for a lot of playing time as the Spaniard's principal backup.
Still, while Robinson is talented, he's not so much so that Liverpool couldn't do better at the position, both next year and further down the line. That said, his status as a home-grown player at the club will continue to make him valuable for Liverpool once they re-enter European competition; only Steven Gerrard, Martin Kelly, and Raheem Sterling bear that status in the current senior squad, and at least four such players are required for the Champions and Europa Leagues by UEFA regulations.
So long as Robinson continues to perform well this spring, it's hard to see a scneario where he doesn't earn a place in Liverpool's senior side next season. Hopefully this will prove to be the launchpad he needs to kick-start his career and earn a place in Merseyside lore. Just so long as he doesn't turn in to another Paul Konchesky, I for one can't wait to see how the young man turns out.