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Rodgers Must Give Other Reserves Their Reward

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Brendan Rodgers was pleased with Emre Can's performance against Chelsea, but most of Liverpool's reserves were wrongly sent straight back to the bench.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

For many Liverpool fans, there wasn't an awful lot of good to take away from Saturday's defeat to Chelsea. The players may have kept things reasonably close on the pitch, but whatever silver lining might normally be found in that was buried in an avalanche of disappointment at Brendan Rodgers' approach to the match.

Having loudly insisted a changed squad against Madrid mid-week didn't represent a capitulation to the Spanish giants and then chastising those who his selection a reserve side, on Saturday he went straight back to ten of his regulars. Regulars who had failed miserably against Newcastle and Hull. And the don't-call-them-reserves, bar one, went back to the bench.

"He's a big, strong boy who is just coming back to fitness really," said Rodgers of Emre Can, the one irregular who kept his place—and one brightest spots against Chelsea. "He did very well, showing good power and energy. He's a young player that is developing very well and I'm sure over the next couple of years he'll prove to be a very good player."

Can's performance against Madrid deserved another start, and his performance against Chelsea means he should be near the top of the teamsheet against QPR. On merit, though, he wasn't the only one deserving of another chance. In Can's case, though, the player he replaced was Joe Allen, who has not been amongst the seemingly guaranteed starters this season.

For the likes of Lucas, Toure, Manquillo, and Lallana, it was different. For them, the entrenched starter status of Gerrard, Lovren, Johnson, and Sterling regardless of form meant their Madrid showings were rewarded with a spot on the bench. And it meant Rodgers' insistence they weren't reserves and his team was selected on merit was hollow talk, not backed by action.

Rodgers earned—or should have—a great deal of patience from fans by taking Liverpool to second last year, but even if the vast majority are willing to give him time, it's inarguable that many of his decisions this season have been frustrating. At least, though, Emre Can got his chance. Hopefully a few more will against Crystal Palace.