With Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana, and Jon Flanagan all starting the season on the injured list, Liverpool have already had a chance to demonstrate the value of their newfound depth, and even without a fully fit squad some former regulars have struggled to make the bench. With all three expected back following the international break, competition for playing time could get intense.
Lazar Markovic was fit enough to come off the bench against Tottenham, continuing to show promise as he eases himself into life in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Adam Lallana was fit enough to be in contention—which last year likely would have meant Brendan Rodgers having few options but to start him—but given an extra week to recover. Next up, right back Flanagan.
"I don't think it will be too long and I think I should be back after the international break if all goes well," said Flanagan, who on last season's form many will expect to at least earn the role of first fullback off the bench for Liverpool this season. "It has been frustrating for me but I can't dwell on it. It was tough to pick up the injury in pre-season but I've just got to forget about that now."
Before Flanagan's injury, his competition for minutes was a severely out of form Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique, who's working his way back to full fitness after an injury-plagued season. Now he's got Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo to deal with, both of whom are likely pencilled in starters for Rodgers following solid performances against Tottenham on Sunday.
"It's going to be tough but I'm more determined now than ever," he said of the added competition. "It's a massive season for me and I just can't wait to get back now. There's a lot more competition for places, which is good for us. The manager has strengthened the squad with the new signings, so I've got to continue to work hard and then hopefully get a chance."
Flanagan will hope to get back into training over the next week, though Aston Villa at home on the 13th may come too soon for him. However, it will be interesting to see if he can force his way at least onto the bench the following week against West Ham, when his ability to play equally well on either side could be useful in allowing Rodgers to dress only one substitute fullback.