Liverpool's recent struggle to find consistent goalscoring form has given the football punditocracy a plethora of opportunities to harp on Christian Benteke's seeming crisis of confidence and cast doubt on Daniel Sturridge's long-term future with the club. With the focus very much on the two senior Liverpool strikers, it may be easy to forget that February has also seen the return to fitness of Divock Origi.
Since reminding Liverpool fans of his existence with an eyebrow-raising performance against Southampton in the Capital One Cup, the young Belgian striker had been threatening to make this a breakout season before injury halted further progress. Rather than dwelling on setbacks and squandered opportunities, Origi would prefer to focus on the future - and according to him, the future is good.
"When I look at this squad I am optimistic. I see a lot of positive things. We’ve got real competition for places now and that should make the level of the team go up. It has to be a good thing with a lot of important games to come."
Perhaps not the most revelatory of statements from Origi, but one worth noting amidst the disappointment of Liverpool's recent form and the off-the-pitch furore around ticket prices. The injury bug that has plagued Liverpool all season long and a punishing fixture schedule have conspired to test the squad's depth chart in a more rigorous fashion than anyone was perhaps expecting, and it would be a fair assessment to say that certain positions have been found wanting. Against that backdrop, the collective return from injury of Origi, Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho has been a most welcome development, and the Belgian striker is aware that there are significant prizes within grasp, including a Capital One Cup.
"We are so close to winning a big prize. It's just one game against Manchester City. We have to use the next couple of weeks to ensure we're ready for this moment."
Unbridled optimism is not something that has been seen in copious quantities at Anfield and at Melwood this season, and while Origi's observation remains very much in the realm of the obvious, it's a reminder that every match can be the one that launches a spell of positive momentum. In Origi's own words, "in a season things can change very fast and I know that good things are waiting for us." Liverpool's young debutants and almost-debutants have already done their part to elevate hopes about the future. The club will now look to its returning players to transform those hopes into reality as they enter the final stretch of the season.