With Lucas Leiva out for a month, questions about how best to make up for the absence of the midfielder who has been key to Liverpool’s recently improved form is at the forefront heading into a match against Tottenham that could turn out to be decisive for their top four aspirations. One option many have suggested would be to move Emre Can up the pitch.
The 21-year-old is, at the end of the day, a midfielder first despite having so far made his mark at Liverpool as the ball-playing member of Brendan Rodgers back three. His present may be at the back—energetic late shifts against Bolton aside—but his future likely still lies up the pitch. The manager, though, believes that future will have to wait and that moving Can forward isn’t the answer to the current problem.
"Lucas has been very important for us but there will be an opportunity for someone else," said Rodgers when asked about his plans for covering for the Brazilian’s absence. "Eventually, Can will be a player who plays further forward and there might be games when I do think that, but you also have to remember the balance of the team as well, which is very good at the moment.
"It’s four clean sheets in a row and defensively we have been very strong. With Emre you can see the importance of his role and the position he plays in there. He was immense at the weekend in a real physical game. Why disrupt that and try to fix something that could acutally create another problem? The balance of the team is fine at the moment."
Taken together, the message is clear. First, it’s highly unlikely Can moves forward against Tottenham when the two sides face off on Tuesday evening. And second, it’s highly unlikely Rodgers plans on changing his formation or approach from recent weeks. Whoever comes in elsewhere, it will be can at the back and another match for the 3-4-2-1 that Liverpool have played for the past two months.