It’s been a bitty and frustrating season watching his Liverpool teammates stacking up the plaudits, but there’s a decent chance Emre Can’s big opportunity may arrive on Monday night as intense rivals Manchester United arrive in town.
The Reds’ multifaceted German had been a regular for Brendan Rodgers in a variety of roles during his debut 2014/15 campaign on Merseyside and he subsequently became a fixture in Jurgen Klopp’s team last term.
Can’s importance to the cause was exemplified by playing every minute of both cup finals in the heart of midfield and amassing 49 appearances across all competitions.
Injury and Liverpool’s generally excellent performances without him have seriously curtailed the 22-year-old’s involvement in 2016/17 however, so he’s had to bide his time and settle for the sub’s bench in only three Premier League outings.
The last cameo arrived in the narrow win over Swansea before the international break and the fitness of the man he replaced in the latter stages of that game is now pivotal to Can’s chances of a start against United.
Georginio Wijnaldum, the £25m summer signing from Newcastle, strained his hamstring on international duty with Holland, rendering him a major doubt for the eagerly anticipated televised clash, in which Liverpool begin as the 6/5 favourites for victory.
The energetic Dutchman has flourished under Klopp as the more defensively-minded of a central midfield pairing alongside Adam Lallana and in front of anchorman Jordan Henderson.
Lallana’s availability is also under threat from a groin issue, though with such a tight squeeze for places at the sharp end of the pitch, should the England man miss out a move inside for chief creator Philippe Coutinho seems the most logical move for Klopp.
If Can has an optimum position, then all evidence points to that box-to-box role Wijnadlum may be forced to vacate.
Not many players possess the wherewithal to marry defensive diligence with a desire to drive forward, but Die Mannschaft man is comfortably bipolar in that respect.
A memorable display in a game of this magnitude would do Can’s chances of holding down a regular slot the world of good.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing