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Henderson Surgery Should Give Allen Another Opportunity

After injury once again interrupted his progress, Joe Allen should be set to get a start against Arsenal tomorrow in the FA Cup as Jordan Henderson recovers from Thursday's wrist surgery.

Clive Brunskill

Jordan Henderson's value to the Liverpool squad is, at this point, more a matter of reality than opinion. From transfer makeweight to squad member to first-team regular to critical midfield cog, Henderson's made the most of his time on Merseyside, and reports have him set to benefit with a contract extension this summer. His fitness levels have understandably created a narrative that he's indestructible--in spite of career-threatening gait-gate--and were it not for the Anfield adboards, he probably would be.

Alas, a collision with said barriers led to a fractured wrist in the 5-1 romp over Arsenal last weekend, leading the 24 year old to wear a cast against Fulham on Wednesday and undergo surgery at some point on Thursday. He didn't appear to be in any pain at Craven Cottage (painkillers tend to do that), and I'd guess that if it were up to him, he'd be back in action tomorrow to face Arsenal yet again.

But let's not, Liverpool, both for the sake of his longer-term health and for the chance to get Joe Allen some much-needed minutes. They'd likely be better with Henderson than without him, as we've seen for most of this season and a good portion of last, and a fairly light procedure would normally not be enough to rule him out given his importance to the side.

Allen should be a no-brainer in his place, though, to allow whatever recovery is needed ahead of Swansea's visit to Anfield next weekend and get the Welshman back in the mix for the run-in. His relative anonymity since getting injured ahead of the win over Bournemouth erased memories of a terrific spell through much of December for Allen, who combined to great effect with Lucas and Henderson as Liverpool played some of their best stuff of the season.

Cameos against West Brom and Arsenal haven't seen him exert much influence similar to pre-injury performances, but hopefully a start tomorrow will get him back up and running. Between a chance for him, recovery for Henderson, and a return for Lucas on the horizon, Liverpool's midfield might have both depth and quality for the season's final few months.

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