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Despite Lack of Earlier Chances, Tiago Ilori Pushes for as Many Minutes as Possible

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Back from loan and fresh off his Anfield debut, Tiago Ilori broke down the struggles with being on loan and the importance of putting in a shift in training.

This is an awkward photo but I'm pretty sick of the other options in the database.
This is an awkward photo but I'm pretty sick of the other options in the database.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Poor Tiago Ilori. Sent adrift on loan to a dire Aston Villa side that didn't think the Liverpool loanee would at all improve their fortunes in defense, Ilori was recalled by Jürgen Klopp, and expressed excitement about being back on Merseyside only for Steven Caulker to arrive on loan to help deal with the club's centre back injury crisis.

Caulker has so far made not one but two unexpected substitute appearances at centre forward. His ineligibility for Liverpool's third round FA Cup replay against Exeter City meant Ilori finally made his Anfield debut, but with Caulker unlikely to find himself in a permanent attacking role for the Reds, Ilori knows it will take hard work and impressing the manager to find himself in the side on at least a semi-regular basis.

"It is not easy [adjusting to loans] but that is part of being a footballer," Ilori explained. "We have to adapt and do our best. I came here a couple of years ago and I wasn't here more than four months before going on loan. I never really got comfortable enough and that is definitely something I needed. Working with the same people every day is important.

"I am not trying to think too far ahead. I am just working hard every day, getting as many minutes as I can and be ready when I am needed to play as there are great players in my position. I am confident in my own ability. All you can do is work hard and try to show your strengths. I would loved to have had a chance earlier but that is just the way it goes."

The good news is that Ilori and Klopp seem to be on the same page about the importance of keeping developing talent together at Melwood. The bad news is that as Liverpool get deeper into cup competitions and injured players return, Ilori's opportunity for minutes will decline. All he can do is exactly what he knows he must do: work hard and show his strengths in hopes that the manager takes a gamble when other options are available.