Of the summer signings that featured in preseason, Emre Can was easily the most impressive. It helped that, along with Rickie Lambert, he was a regular fixture in the starting eleven or off the bench, but the 20-year-old looked instantly comfortable and commanding in Liverpool's midfield, giving them a physical presence that's been lacking in recent years. The only downside to the young midfielder's summer was fitness; his first showing against Preston was halted after twenty minutes due to injury, and in the finale against Dortmund--a match that saw Brendan Rodgers select that same starting eleven bar Can as against Southampton--he had to come off after just 45 minutes.
Rodgers didn't make any further comment regarding his availability, however, and come last Sunday he opted for Lucas in favor of Can. That Can missed out wasn't solely a matter of Rodgers' preference, however, as the physical midfielder acknowledged that he's not quite at full fitness yet:
"The most important thing was to win the first match of the season, and I think we deserved the 2-1 victory. Of course, one wants to play, but I am not yet 100 per cent fit and the coach chose not to play me. I have to continue to work on my fitness to give my best and persuade the coach to pick me to start. I am looking forward to this match, last season's first against second. I'm sure it will be a big match. We won the first match and to win the second is also important. I think all of our players can go into that second match confidently, having won our first match. We all have a great deal of self-belief and we can go into that match to win it."
If he's not fully fit now, that doesn't bode well for a start on Monday, and given the impact Joe Allen had after coming on early in the second half last weekend, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Welshman in place of Lucas rather than Can. There is a case to be made for Can, though, and if he is match-fit he should feature either at the front or back end.
The latter might be more likely at this point, but either way it would be nice to see him play a part in one of the more important matches in Liverpool's early season.