As has so often been the case over his nine seasons at Liverpool, Martin Skrtel seemed a lock for the starting eleven in the months following the arrival of Jürgen Klopp. Then, the player who seemed to never fall to injury picked up a hamstring tear. In his absence, Dejan Lovren has been a revelation.
The defender, who had spent the previous 18 months struggling to justify not just his £20M price tag but even his very presence in the team suddenly appeared confident and maybe even a little commanding, and between Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, and Kolo Toure, Liverpool have seem well covered at centre half.
All of which makes for a tough road back to the starting eleven for Martin Skrtel now that he’s returned to training with the first team, and if there was any thought he might play a role on Thursday against Manchester United, that has now been put to rest as he has travelled with the U21s to face West Ham.
Skrtel was unlikely to start, but given he’s been back in training for two weeks now, many would have expected that he would at least get a spot on the bench. Instead, he will join Jon Flanagan—who isn’t available to play in the Europa League—with the U21s in their youth FA Cup semi-final today in East London.
The defender had been judged ready to make the bench against Manchester City in the league two weeks ago but failed to make the squad against United last week and will again be missing from it tomorrow. If Lovren again puts in a strong performance, it could be some time before Skrtel can hope for more.