Joe Allen is in form and ready to play a key role in Liverpool's season. The Welsh international has impressed in a more advanced role, enabling Liverpool to build attacks higher up the pitch and keep the ball. He has also continued his fine form deeper in midfield against Borussia Dortmund and Stoke City, respectively. The problem was finding regular starts, but further injury misfortune experienced by Jordan Henderson has provided opportunity for Allen to seize a spot in the starting line-up for the rest of the campaign.
There is the matter of a contract that expires next summer, but Liverpool need Allen in what could be an extremely busy April. The second leg against Borussia Dortmund is more than enough to focus minds -- a match where Liverpool could upset the odds by knocking out the Europa League favourites and securing a place in the semi-finals. Allen seems to be aware that this time is for concentrating on the job at hand and worrying about the rest later.
"At a club like Liverpool you are always playing for your future," Allen politely informed the Liverpool Echo. "Maybe more so now than ever before for me but it's not something I've thought too much about or focused too much on. It's just a case of looking forward to games like Thursday night. Of course I hope I start. It's a huge game. Every single player in the squad will be hoping the same."
Klopp substituted Allen to preserve him for Thursday's gargantuan game and described the 26-year-old's performance against Stoke City as "brilliant." What followed was a large dollop of applause from the fans after a fine performance, and it was something that touched the diminutive midfielder.
"It meant a huge amount. I'm really grateful for the support I've had from the fans," Allen said. "It was a special moment to have experienced that. I really enjoyed it. It's always a privilege to play at Anfield and when you pick up three points, it makes it that much sweeter.
"Losing Jordan has been the one big disappointment we've had in the last week or so. He's our captain and a key player for us. He's going to be missed for sure but it's a case of making sure whoever starts steps up and helps the team get through what's an exciting time.
"My focus all season has been on staking a claim. Inevitably there are injuries and suspensions throughout the season so you will get opportunities. My aim hasn't changed. It's about trying to make sure when you get an opportunity that you take it with both hands. There is a lot still to play for this season and there's still a lot to achieve. I want to be a part of that."
Allen has taken a long time to win fans over as a midfielder of quality, often struggling to match his wonderful early displays in the first few months of his Liverpool career. He has found good spells of form at times but never seemed to truly win over many Liverpool fans. The close ties to the manager who brought him in -- Brendan Rodgers -- didn't help either. Whatever happens with Allen beyond the summer is immaterial; his talents are required urgently with much to play for this season.