It doesn't seem likely that a defender who can't get into Burnley’s team should be anywhere close to an option for Liverpool’s first-team squad, but Flanagan is determined to prove his worth at his hometown club.
“I’ve got a job to do for Burnley until the end of the season but after that I want to go back and prove what I’m all about at Liverpool,” Flanagan declared.
“One of my greatest strengths is my self-belief. What I’ve done in the past is change people’s opinions of me and force my way into a very good Liverpool team.
“I’ve shown that I can perform at the highest level. I am more than confident of doing the same again. I still feel like I’ve got a lot to offer. I am really excited and looking forward to the challenge.”
Flanagan did show what he could do during a title challenge in 2013/14 by making 23 appearances and scoring one goal. He made the left back position his own ahead of José Enrique who was struggling with injuries. A knee injury that required two surgeries kept Flanagan out for nearly two seasons and derailed his career at Liverpool. In the space of two days last March, Flanagan signed a new contract and captained Liverpool for the first time in what was a significant show of faith by Jürgen Klopp.
Since then, however, much has changed. Trent Alexander-Arnold has emerged as Nathaniel Clyne’s understudy at right back, Alberto Moreno has lost his place in the team but remains in the squad, and James Milner has been surprisingly converted into a somewhat reliable left back. There's also the possibility that Liverpool will move for a left back in the summer to compete with or possibly replace James Milner.
Flanagan’s determination is unquestionably admirable, but Liverpool are looking to improve on and complement the existing squad. The way Klopp plays demands that fullbacks are comfortable on the ball, have great stamina, and contribute in the attacking third. Clyne doesn't always shine in the final third but is clearly one of the league’s best right backs, while Milner’s qualities as a midfielder make him more than technically suitable for the demands of the position.
It's almost certain that Flanagan wouldn't start ahead of either, and he might find himself struggling to leapfrog Moreno or Alexander-Arnold as reserve fullbacks. Not being able to get into the Burnley side doesn't help his case despite his status as a passionate and loyal Scouser. Despite these reservations, there would be no better story than Flanagan impressing in pre-season and giving Liverpool another reliable option.
The physical and technical demands may be beyond him, but will mental strength be able to force Flanagan back into the Liverpool first-team picture?