Anfield’s forgotten man, Adam Lallana, is once more on the verge of a comeback as he steps up his final preparations on the training field in a bid to be selected for Liverpool’s upcoming away trip to face David Wagner’s Huddersfield.
While Wagner is a good friend of Jurgen Klopp, there’s no suggestion that the Liverpool manager will go easy on his buddy as Liverpool look to get back to winning ways following two back-to-back draws against Chelsea and Manchester City – and Lallana’s return could go some way to helping Klopp achieve that goal.
There’s been no shortage of cries from some sections of the Liverpool fan base that Lallana has past his best, should be sold and can’t be relied upon due to his recent injury record.
But in recent weeks, there have also been cries for more creativity in the heart of Liverpool’s midfield – and with those who have been away on international duty for the last week now filtering back to Melwood with a few knocks, those cries for something fresh for Klopp’s side could well be answered by Lallana.
While Liverpool have enjoyed their joint-best start to a Premier League season, it’s fair to say that some of the flair and pizzazz that so frequently helped them to dismantle so many teams last season has been missing. Against lesser opposition, such as Brighton, Southampton and Crystal Palace, this perhaps hasn’t been such a problem as the Reds have been able to get through with all three points without getting out of second gear.
However, the lack of a creative spark and someone who could turn the game on its head and create something out of nothing was distinctly missing against the likes of City and Chelsea domestically, and Napoli in the Champions League.
Many have already pointed to the noticeable absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the slow-burning front three and Keita and Fabinho taking longer to adjust than many expected, but everyone seems to have overlooked the impact that Adam Lallana can have on Klopp’s side.
During the 2016/17 season, Lallana was one of the Reds’ stand-out performers under Klopp, as the former Southampton man really found his groove, scoring goals, providing assists and being an all-round menace as part of Liverpool’s gegenpressing unit.
He provides a direct threat with his direct, skilful runs at the heart of defences – something which many have stated that Liverpool have been missing since Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury troubles.
And it’s certainly nice to be handed another rotation option as we head ever closer to the hectic Christmas fixture list where the squad will be pushed to its limits.
Not only does Lallana provide Klopp with a different option, but he also could help to shape the form of those who are perhaps performing a little under their best.
It’s no secret that the likes of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino have perhaps been a bit off-colour this season – maybe suffering from a World Cup hangover – and that they need a bit of competition for their places in the side.
Lallana coming back to fitness provides Klopp with another option, on top of the other peripheral members of the squad such as Shaqiri and Sturridge. Seeing so many players around them pushing for a starting will undoubtedly give them a bit of an eye-opening experience, and could help to push them out of their currents dips in form, for want of a better phrase.
Above all though, at this present moment, Lallana’s return to fitness simply bolsters the numbers available for selection as Naby Keita seems to be the latest addition to Liverpool’s international injury list.
Keita, Salah, Mané and van Dijk have now all reportedly suffered set-backs while on duty with their countries, stretching Liverpool’s squad somewhat. While adequate cover is still available, should one more injury strike in a crucial position, things could start to get a bit concerning for the Reds.
Thank goodness for the return of Adam Lallana, then – especially because he’s ditched his daft hair style.