It's only a month into the new season and already Liverpool's improved depth looks set to be severely tested. Daniel Sturridge's injury, his likely two to three week layoff, and the role the England national team's training methods played in it were already known. What wasn't known was that the club would be getting back into the action down two midfielders.
Speaking at his pre-Aston Villa press conference, Brendan Rodgers revealed that after rolling his ankle late on in the German U21 side's hammering of Romania, Emre Can could miss up to six weeks. Joe Allen, the man he's likely competing with for minutes this season, is also likely to miss the weekend at least with a knee injury suffered while on Wales duty.
It leaves Liverpool's midfield—or at least the club's stock of central midfielders—suddenly looking very thin right when the games are about to ramp up to twice weekly as the club prepare to make their Champions League return. Depth and options do remain, but most would have bet on at least one of Can or Allen starting on Saturday against Aston Villa.
Now, the spot in midfield alongside Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson is up for grabs. It could mean a return to the starting eleven for Philippe Coutinho, who has impressed before in a deeper role. It could also mean Lucas Leiva makes his way back into the squad, though many remain nervous of the prospect of a Lucas-Gerrard double pivot.
Another option could be Adam Lallana, who is likely to be involved from the start on Saturday, with the only question whether he plays as a proper midfielder or more advanced and on the wing. Lallana's imminent return, though, is about the only good news on the injury front, as Jon Flanagan, Glen Johnson, and Martin Skrtel all remain out of commission.