Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson is a major doubt for the Reds’ next game against Crystal Palace in eight days time. The 25-year-old recently pulled out of international duty after revealing he hadn’t trained for more than two weeks due to an ankle injury.
Although the Scotland captain could make it back in time, manager Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be putting plans in place to ensure Liverpool can adjust when they face the Eagles.
Like Alexander-Arnold on the opposite flank, Robertson is one of the team’s key creative players. The Reds are quite unorthodox in focusing the majority of their attacks on the flanks, while going with more conservative options in the middle of the park.
Robertson’s absence and the likely selection of James Milner instead will mean that some of the team’s creativity will have to come from another area on the pitch.
With that in mind, a change in central midfield is an absolute must. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would be the primary candidate considering his excellent recent form but Klopp may see things differently.
Naby Keita is used to playing in the left-sided central midfield role, and he would compensate for the absence of Robertson’s creativity from the left flank.
You also have to consider the opponents. Last time Palace came to Anfield, they narrowly lost 4-3, and much of that was to do with their counter-attacking threat from the likes of Andros Townsend and more importantly Wilfried Zaha.
The Ivorian generally plays off the left, Liverpool’s right-hand side, and Trent Alexander-Arnold will need someone to help double up on the tricky winger. If Oxlade-Chamberlain plays on the Reds’ right, he is far less able than someone like Jordan Henderson to fulfil that role.
Again, it would point to Keita playing on the opposing side in order to compensate for Henderson having to do a lot more work tracking back.
Keita’s career at Liverpool is yet to get going, and while he has shown flashes of inspiration here and there, the Guinean continues to be overlooked for the big games as he is simply not trusted by Klopp to fulfil the role required.
Robertson’s injury could, therefore, offer him another chance to stake his claim for a more regular place in the side. We will have to see whether he can take it if he is selected on Saturday week.