Given their place in the table and some of the football they've played this season, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that this Liverpool squad hasn't been at full strength for more than a match or two at a time since August. Without Luis Suarez to start, then without Philippe Coutinho, then Daniel Sturridge, Iago Aspas was ruled out, Steven Gerrard and Jose Enrique too, Joe Allen missed two different spells, then Daniel Agger, then Lucas, Glen Johnson got in on the fun, and Mamadou Sakho didn't want to be left out either so he's missed almost three months.
So. That's a hefty amount of important players to go without for any spell, and even with Liverpool managing to string together a number of impressive performances while going without, injuries are tacky and I hate them. Thankfully--at least for right now--the squad's fitness problems are in the rear-view mirror, with Brendan Rodgers confirming that Lucas and Sakho should be in the squad for Sunday after their appearance for the U21s earlier this week.
That means only Jose Enrique will miss out, giving Liverpool their strongest squad since the start of the season:
"We're fine - we've had Lucas Leiva and young Sakho [come] back in. It's a great credit to them; when I gave players time off, they actually wanted to stay behind. It shows you the commitment of this squad. They had an opportunity to have a break, they'd been working very, very hard with the medical team, but they decided to stay and last Friday they travelled down themselves in a car to London to play in an U21 game.
"Both came through that fine and they've trained very well this week. They come into the squad and we're only got Jose Enrique missing. Make no mistake, the two players are very valuable players for us in our squad and if they're called upon to play or come off the bench between now and the end of the season, of course we will use them. Lucas and Mamadou have got great commitment to what we're doing and we'll welcome them back into the squad."
Not to go off the deep end in terms of romanticizing Rodgers' comments here, but it certainly does appear to indicate a level of desire on the part of the players to be involved in something special; yes, they're paid athletes and it's their jobs and etc., but skipping vacation, traveling by car to a reserves fixture in London, ramping up rehab to make themselves available--this is the stuff that makes teams special, and the type of stuff that ideally creates a cohesive, competitive, and, ideally, successful squad.
Whether or not either of them feature on Sunday, this is terrific news for the run-in, and news that should only add to the growing belief that Liverpool should be able to compete until the season's final day.