With Brad Jones having started the last three matches ahead of a healthy Simon Mignolet and manager Brendan Rodgers saying he had benched the Belgian shot-stopper "indefinitely," many had assumed Mignolet's time at the club was functionally over. That now it was just about sourcing a long-term replacement in January and, in all likelihood, then finding a new home for Liverpool's former number one.
At his pre-match press conference today for Friday's meeting with Burnley, Rodgers suggested the Mignolet's future might not be completely settled. In doing so, he may even have opened the door to Mignolet getting the chance to prove his worth to the club before January rolls around, though the smart money likely remains on Jones starting his third game in a row on Friday given Rodgers' tendency to stick with what's working.
"Simon's response has been fantastic," began Rodgers when asked what the future held for Simon Mignolet. "People think coming out of the team would have a negative effect but he's been outstanding in his training. Coming out of the lineup and having the the chance to reflect and refocus is something players need at times. But I haven't lost any belief in him. He's still an outstanding goalkeeper."
He wouldn't, though, commit to whether or not Mignolet would start on Friday, insisting that he has been happy with Brad Jones' work filling in over the past three matches. Jones distribution has at times been better than Mignolet's was, and the Australian ‘keeper looked far more comfortable with the ball at his feet against Arsenal in particular, where he was regularly involved in Liverpool's deep build-up play.
As a shot-stopper, though, he so far nothing he has done has countered the belief that he's a clear step down from Mignolet. Though most have agreed that Mignolet has struggled this season, some of the goals conceded by Jones against Manchester United and Arsenal one would expect a starting Premier League goalkeeper stop. When pressed on who would start on Friday, though, Rodgers insisted he was happy with Jones.
"Over his career here he has been number three or number two amongst the goalkeepers, but when called upon he had always done very well," said the manager. "He's a very loyal player, and an important member of the squad. He's done well in the games he's played and been consistent all the way through."