Regardless of one's leanings, it seems fair to say that Liverpool missed Joe Allen in the 0-0 draw against Blackburn on Sunday. He likely wouldn't have had a decisive impact on the scoresheet, but his influence had grown in the weeks leading up to the quarterfinal tie, and in the absence of Lucas, Allen had stepped in admirably alongside Jordan Henderson. Most agreed his finest performance in a Liverpool came just a week earlier in the 2-1 win over Manchester City, and against Burnley just days later he was again excellent.
News of an injury came at a particularly cruel time, twith even those who have typically fixate on hackneyed criticism about his range of passing or his manager's early hyperbole forced to acknowledge that he's actually quite decent. That much was evident when Emre Can, who's been nothing short of a revelation since emerging as a first-team regular, had an uneven performance in place of Allen last weekend, struggling to make an impact when deployed further forward. No doubt his absence at the back, along with that of Martin Skrtel after an early injury, had its toll on Liverpool's preferred approach, but missing the diminutive Welshman no doubt played a significant part.
So reports of a return ahead of Liverpool's visit to Swansea City on Monday--yet another tricky fixture that will challenge Brendan Rodgers' squad as they search for a spot in the top four--are encouraging, and if he does pass fit, he will no doubt feature in the starting eleven against his former club. He will join captain Steven Gerrard among those once again available for selection in a squad that should increasingly afford Rodgers the luxury of choice as the season enters the final stretch.
Unlike Gerrard, Allen's Liverpool career will continue beyond that final stretch, however, and rumors in the past week have the midfielder set to extend his current deal to ensure an Anfield stay beyond the two years remaining on his current deal. It's no surprise he'd be among those that Rodgers would look to retain as he attempts to build a squad more suited to his preferences.
Joe Allen doesn't appear to be a player who would make much of a fuss about negotiating a new deal, which is fitting considering the role he'll be expected to play in this Liverpool side. The match-winners are needed elsewhere, but Allen will fit comfortably into a midfield that demands intelligence, energy, and technique, all of which the 24-year-old has in spades.
Fitness for Monday likely comes first, but news of a longer stay on Merseyside can only be seen as a double boost for a Liverpool side whose future continues to take shape.