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Is Jordon Ibe Set for Liverpool's Starting Eleven Against Stoke City?

A strong preseason to this point capped with a stunning left-footed strike to draw Liverpool level with the Malaysia Selection on Friday night has forced 19-year-old Jordon Ibe into Brendan Rodgers' thinking for the season ahead.

Matt King/Getty Images

There is a unique set of circumstances that face Brendan Rodgers in the season opener, as he's yet to identify a convincing first-choice starting eleven through the preseason and will only be able to offer four of his squad's more talented members one match before the visit to the Britannia on August 9. The tour to Thailand, Australia, and Malaysia saw the fourth-year boss try different personnel and formations, and he'll have more thinking to do when the squad as a whole get together back on Merseyside.

With plenty of gray area as to whether or not the likes of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, and Emre Can will make the starting eleven after missing the preseason tour due to their international services, 19-year-old Jordon Ibe could find himself with a starting berth when Liverpool face Stoke City on the season's opening weekend. Promising showings in the spring were halted by injury, but the winger has been among the squad's best to this point in the summer, and with a remarkable strike to level the tie against the Malaysian Selection on Friday, Ibe once again took the headlines.

His promising performances have led to discussion as to whether or not Rodgers decides to hand him a start in a match that is sure to test Liverpool's young squad. Many have pointed out that it looks as though a 4-3-3 formation will be preferred by the manager at the start, with Christian Benteke likely to feature immediately as the main man up top, and Ibe has forced his way into the running for a wide spot in support of the newly-signed Belgian.

He's certainly ahead of Lazar Markovic on the depth chart, and while Coutinho and Firmino will likely oust him once they're up to speed, Ibe should have a strong case to make the first eleven in two weeks' time. Adam Lallana has similarly impressed and can offer attacking impetus both wide and cutting through the middle, and bringing Ibe's powerful running and confidence in possession to contrast Lallana's guile and smart interplay in support of Benteke up top--with Jordan Henderson and James Milner expected to take turns getting forward from deeper in midfield--is a promising proposition.

While comparisons to Raheem Sterling are ill-advised and unnecessary, the one similarity worth noting is that it will be dangerous to expect too much too soon from Jordon Ibe. Whether or not he features in the grudge match against Stoke City, he's shown for most of 2015 that he's a player of clear potential, and one whose talents are worth waiting for.

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