Once the brightest defensive prospect at the club, a string of injuries have led to a situation where many believe 24-year-old Martin Kelly's Liverpool career is beyond salvaging. That he would be lucky, perhaps, to make it in football at all given his seeming fragility and is more likely to become this decade's Neil Mellor, a once promising academy prospect undone by injury.
An outing at centre half in last week's post-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers didn't do much to convince otherwise, as despite a well taken goal, Kelly struggled physically, his movement slow and often awkward. In the defensive end, he was soundly outplayed by U21 youngster Rafa Paez. Despite that, Brendan Rodgers still sees a future for him.
"Martin has been really unfortunate," Rodgers told the club's official website when asked about Kelly's struggles to recover from his latest injury. "He was out for a year, he came back this season and at the beginning of the season we put him into some games. But as the season wore on and we were concentrating on one game a week, it was very difficult for him to get games.
"He's a quality player and he's a good guy as well—he knows the club inside out. He's been around for a long time and the game against Shamrock Rovers was his first game for a number of months. He played at centre-half, as opposed to right-back, where he has played a lot. He's a good guy and there will be games next year for the likes of him to come and play in."
Having ruptured ACL in September of 2012, an expected six-month layoff turned into an entire year. When he finally did make it back into action, a series of less than impressive outings and more than a few minor setbacks kept him largely sidelined and led to Jon Flanagan being given the chance to stake his claim at fullback.
Now, at least on current form, Kelly seems bereft of the mobility needed to play the fullback role, leaving him at best fifth choice at centre half and surrounded by questions about his footballing future, at least at the highest levels. Rodgers, though, still at least has some hope for him. Hopefully he's right to have it.