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Klopp Hails Flanagan for Man of the Match Performance

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It's not easy coming back from injury, nor is it easy to make your first start in a do or die League Cup semi-final. But Jon Flanagan rose to the occasion, earning accolades from his manager.

MY HEART JUST GREW THREE SIZES.
MY HEART JUST GREW THREE SIZES.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Poor Jon Flanagan has been out with injury for nearly two years. It's a hard road back to fitness at the best of times, and even more so to make your first post-injury start in a high pressure second leg League Cup semi-final. Though the overall performance of the team was hit or miss, manager Jürgen Klopp singled out the local boy for individual praise after the match.

"My man of the match," Klopp enthused.  "He was great. 105 minutes after -- you know it better than me -- May 2014, right? So it's unbelievable making this match. Usually of course we know it's not the best thing (playing so long) but we had no other choice and we always were in contact with him, asking Flanno.

"Even when we took him out he was saying 'I could go on'. That was really great and with all the problems you lose the feeling for the game, you can lose it in shorter times. You can do all your things with the ball, that's what you don' t forget, but defending in the right spaces, we defend different maybe than when he played last time. He did really great, man of the match for me for sure."

If there's one thing that was never really in doubt for fans, it's Flanno's feeling for the game. With Steven Gerrard's departure at the end of last season, Liverpool have lacked a bit of Scouse heart in their line up week in and week out. Flanno may have been out for an insufferably long time, but he demonstrated that a long injury lay off is not enough to kill the in-game passion of a local lad playing for his local club as they try to qualify for a cup final.

Liverpool won't have much of a reprieve before they head to Wembley at the end of February, but with injured players slowly returning to training, Jürgen Klopp will have greater options available to him than ever before. It's just his first full ninety and then some since returning, but Flanagan may have made a case for being part of Klopp's regular team selection more emphatically than even he might have imagined.