Among the many surprises and unexpected pleasures of last season's exciting campaign was the emergence of the 22-year-old fullback, who cemented his spot as left-back with a superb run of form through the winter and spring. In a team with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in the best form of their careers, Raheem Sterling turning into a superstar, and Philippe Coutinho dazzling on a regular basis, Jon Flanagan was a standout in his own right. That takes some doing.
Few would have predicted as much ahead of the season, but Flanagan finished the 2013-2014 Premier League season as an automatic starter, and while the club added to their ranks over the summer, most expected the Merseyside native to once again force his way into the manager's plans as Liverpool entered their third season under Brendan Rodgers.
A preseason injury that required surgery meant there would be no such encore, and the fullback's rehabilitation has taken most of the current season. As the calendar turned the news was positive, however, and as Liverpool enter the season's final two months in fine form, they can count Flanagan's imminent return to the senior squad among the many positives.
"I'm very close - I've been doing light bits of training with the squad. As of Friday, I'm back in full training with the squad, so it's good. I'm delighted. I'm 100 per cent now and it is exciting times. I'm back in training with the lads and feeling great. I can't rush it. I've got to bide my time; I'm obviously not match fit so I've just got to keep going and it will all come together nicely I think.
"It has been frustrating. I had a problem with my knee and thought I would be back a lot quicker than I have been. Everyone had a great year last year and we were unlucky in the league. For me personally it was a great season, to be in the squad. I wanted to kick on this year, but unfortunately with the injury I haven't. I would say it is the most frustrating season I have had to date. I have had a few setbacks along the way but my knee is fine now and hopefully I can just push on."
It isn't nailed on that he features much--if at all--before the current season is over, but for a player who made himself an integral piece of last season's run, news that he'll rejoin the team for full training can only be viewed as a positive. Flanagan became a sentimental favorite with no-nonsense defending and a string of excellent performances in some of Liverpool's most important matches, and having him back amongst the squad will hopefully provide a boost not only for him, but the squad as a whole.
Where he'll feature once he does return to full fitness is yet to be seen, as Liverpool have changed both tactics and personnel since he last played, but it seems certain that if there's any chance at getting back into Rodgers' thinking, Flanagan will take it.