After featuring with the U21 side last Friday against West Ham and returning to training with the senior squad today, Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho are available for selection against Manchester United after their respective injury layoffs. Fitness boost!
It presents Brendan Rodgers with not one but two problems: how to best set up his midfield to maximize on each player's skill set, and how to solve the age-old centre back pairing conundrum.
You'd need more than one hand to count the number of midfield permutations Brendan Rodgers has experimented with this season, some more successful than others. After playing a full ninety against the youth of West Ham, Lucas may not necessarily be 100% fit to start in a match guaranteed to bring the red mist, but even forgetting any stamina concerns for the moment, there's also no guarantee that a spot in the starting line-up is his to begin with.
World football great Steven Gerrard has had a lock on the defensive midfield position in Lucas' absence, and Brendan Rodgers' choice to move his captain back seems to be one made as a matter of course rather than as a match-by-match decision based on performance. With two of Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, and Philippe Coutinho acting as the points on a midfield triangle anchored by Gerrard at various occasions in the season, space for Lucas and his defensive skills seems a bit hard to find without dropping an in-form Henderson or Allen, or a much more offensively minded Coutinho.
A substitute appearance for the Brazilian wouldn't be amiss in this particular context, of course, but as Lucas continues to work back to the fitness needed to cope with the Pace and Power of the Premier League™ it's a solution Rodgers will need to find.
The Mamadou Sakho "problem", such as it is, is just the selection headache that fans have been drooling over ever since Brendan Rodgers revealed the defender was a week to ten days away from rejoining the team. Sakho managed seventy minutes in the U21 match, and, like Lucas, is perhaps not a lock to start immediately his first week back.
It's hard not to see Sakho immediately returning to the starting line-up the following week against Cardiff, and the question quickly becomes whether or not it's Daniel Agger or Martin Skrtel who gets dropped to make way for the Frenchman. Left Footed Klaxon Rules dictate that it's Agger who will find himself on the bench because logic, but if there was ever a time to test out the theory that maybe two left footers can play together in harmony, a match against a relegation-bound team might be just the ticket.