Liverpool’s injury crisis has intensified with playmaker Philippe Coutinho facing a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
The Brazilian is expected to miss a few weeks of action as a result of the injury, which was sustained in Liverpool’s 1-0 League Cup semi-final win at Stoke City.
Coutinho joins five other Liverpool players who are currently ruled out with hamstring problems – Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Jordan Rossiter, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge – and some have suggested the gegenpressing tactical style employed by manager Jurgen Klopp is to blame.
Former Dortmund coach Klopp famously insists on his players completing a huge amount of running during games and Coutinho appears to be the latest victim of the German’s plan.
Liverpool have recalled loan players Tiago Ilori, Kevin Stewart, Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo to help the squad cope with the Reds’ injury crisis, with 12 players currently in the physio room.
Those injury issues open the door for others to impress, so here are four Liverpool players fantasy football players should consider picking in the coming weeks.
Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino has had a difficult start to life in the Premier League.
The 24-year-old has only scored one goal since arriving in English football in the summer transfer window from Hoffenheim, with three assists giving him an overall WhoScored rating of just 6.87.
Coutinho’s absence could allow Firmino to play in his favoured role, as a number 10 behind the striker, which may enable him to finally shine.
Another big money buy who has struggled to justify his massive fee since moving to Anfield is England international Adam Lallana. Liverpool paid a massive £25 million to take the 27-year-old from Southampton as part of their raid on St Mary’s, but the tricky midfielder has struggled.
He is yet to score in the Premier League this season, although he has contributed three assists, giving him a very average WhoScored rating of 6.81.
If Liverpool are to mount a challenge for a place in the top four they will need more from Lallana.
James Milner left Manchester City for Liverpool in the summer to play in his preferred central midfield role, but the utility man has not always made the impact Reds fans will have expected. Although he has a decent WhoScored rating of 7.08 for Premier League games, a return of two goals and three assists is slightly disappointing for one of the best paid players at Anfield.
The return to fitness of Jordan Henderson should make life easier for Milner, but with the number of players Liverpool have unavailable due to injury the 30-year-old England international may find himself deployed on the wing.
Milner’s crossing could provide more service for struggling striker Christian Benteke, so fantasy players should keep an eye on where the Yorkshire-born star is selected in the coming weeks.
However, a poor disciplinary record – Milner has collected six Premier League bookings already this season – could put some fantasy managers off picking him.
Benteke looked a fine signing when Liverpool bought him from Aston Villa in the summer, but the Belgian has often seemed out of place under both Brendan Rodgers and his replacement Klopp.
The service Benteke thrives on has been sorely lacking, so it is harsh to be too critical of the striker for his mediocre return of just six Premier League goals from 17 matches. However, the large fee Liverpool paid for the attacker means the 25-year-old will have to start contributing more goals sooner rather than later if he is to avoid being dubbed a flop.
Benteke’s pace and power makes him a difficult proposition for defenders to deal with, but the striker looks an awkward fit at Anfield. He certainly has the quality to pull it round and his Premier League goals record is excellent – on average Benteke has scored around one goal in every two matches since his arrival in English football from Genk in 2012.
Klopp’s major challenge for the rest of the season might just be working out how to get the best out of Benteke, who is a fearsome striker on his day.