Liverpool announced the 16-man squad departing for Helsinki to face reigning Finnish champions HJK Helsinki on Saturday. It is safe to say that likely first-team squad members who won't make the trip to Finland will face Swindon Town a day later. New signings Nathaniel Clyne, James Milner, Joe Gomez, Divock Origi, and Danny Ings will feature on Saturday under the leadership of new club captain Jordan Henderson. There are a few youngsters added to the group that will give the team even more of a youthful flavour with the likes of Joe Maguire and Pedro Chirivella providing Academy representation.
The most notable absentees include the indomitable Mamadou Sakho and genetically blessed Emre Can. New signings Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino, and Adam Bogdan look set to feature against Swindon Town. These two games represent the club's final preparations in terms of match fitness against opposition teams before a tough trip to Stoke City on 9 August. What Liverpool fans will be looking for is how the players line up against admittedly modest opposition. Rodgers has already provided clues as to how Liverpool might line up when the season starts, but fans will still try to further understand the finer details of Rodgers' plans.
Can we draw a conclusion from the fact that Dejan Lovren is travelling to Finland alongside Nathaniel Clyne, Martin Škrtel, and Simon Mignolet? Nagging doubts persist that a player who has an awful lot to prove has seemingly retained the trust of a manager who billed him as the club's defensive leader to replace club legend Jamie Carragher.This may be a case of a personal tendency to worry over Sakho's status at the club, but the pre-season patterns certainly indicate that Lovren will have a big role to play this season. Hopefully he can prove the apparent trust of the manager is well-founded.
As for Liverpool's reigning player of the year Philippe Coutinho, it will be good to see him join the rest of the first-team squad in building up his fitness on a football pitch. He has already played a game with the under-21s, but it's good to see a player who will be central to the club's hopes get some action alongside many senior players. Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke will surely be unleashed on Sunday, and as they're the two biggest signings of the summer, that game may be the one to watch for the most curious among us. Being the second and third most expensive players in the clubs history is no small matter.
The biggest concern, if there is any, will surround fitness. The players need to come through the games unscathed after exertions that should push them to being as prepared as possible for a trip to one of the most troubling grounds in the English Premier League. The beginning of a potential revival after the wrongs of last season is not too far away.