The Liverpool faithful were overjoyed to hear about a handful of players making it through their final international matches without injury.
The first player who saw action was Diogo Jota, who successfully made it through 77 minutes with his native Portugal in their victory over Croatia in the UEFA Nations League. The Reds’ newest addition and the player who is most in form so far this season, Jota walked off the pitch of his own volition. No hamstring issues, no knee injuries, no food poisoning. He heads back to training with, at last count, all of his limbs.
The next person who called on his inner Arya Stark and declared unto death, “not today” was Takumi Minamino. He was a substitute in Japan’s loss to Mexico in a friendly that definitely needed to happen. While it was touch-and-go for a bit, Minamino managed to make it to the full time whistle without a groin injury or burst eardrum or broken toe. Not a single angry bear wandered onto the pitch looking for a fight. He too will join the small band of survivors at the new AXA Training Center. Good news from the inside is that there is enough room at the new facility for each remaining player to be allocated their own personal wing. So hey, silver lining.
And lastly, it’s always hard to see children put in harm’s way, which was why many breathed a sigh of relief when Curtis Jones completed his substitute appearance for the England U21s against Albania without incident. England won the game 5-0 on their road to UEFA U21 Euro qualifying. While the match took place at Molineux, home to Wolves, no live wolves were in attendance. Jones didn’t score on Tuesday, but it likely felt as good as a hat trick to him that he avoided sporting a Skrtel-special head bandage or picking up a thigh strain.
The universe is a mysterious place, and the path of destiny is one we all walk down blindfolded. No one knows why these lucky few were spared, but hopefully, with time and hindsight, we’ll come to understand the larger plan.