Jordan Rossiter was one of the bright spots for Liverpool in the first few months of the season. The 18-year-old may not have played a lot, but he'd shown enough in a pair of Europa League starts for fans to think that just maybe the local talent had what it takes to develop into an important player for the club.
Then, as has been the case with so many Liverpool players this season, injury struck. Rossiter played back to back for England's U21s in October and returned to the club with a hamstring strain, prompting manager Jürgen Klopp to say that the English FA treats its young players like horses. Two months later, he's returning to action.
"It was great to be back as it had been seven or eight weeks since I last played," the young midfielder told the club's official website following a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United for Liverpool's U21s on Monday that saw Rossiter get 62 minutes under his belt. "I really enjoyed being back out there but it was a disappointing result."
His participation in the U21 game on Monday rules him out for any involvement on against Southampton on Wednesday in the Capital One Cup, but it's possible Rossiter could be a bench option on the weekend when Liverpool travel to face floundering Newcastle. The Toon currently sit 19th and are early relegation favourites.
Before his injury, Rossiter looked to be developing into Liverpool's best option as backup for veteran defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva. That may still be a role that's open for the youngster given Klopp chose to play Emre Can there instead of Joe Allen as had been expected over the weekend while Lucas served out a suspension.
Can impressed against Swansea, earning man of the match honours, but many remain convinced he is most suited for a box-to-box role that doesn't seek to limited his instincts to push forward. Rossiter by comparison is a player who seems perfectly suited to screening the defence, and if Allen isn't favoured, he could have an in.