With injuries to James Milner and Naby Keita adding to Jurgen Klopp’s midfield misery, Curtis Jones can seize his opportunity to become Liverpool’s main man in the middle of the park
While injuries to James Milner and Naby Keita were a blemish on an otherwise perfect Sunday afternoon for Liverpool, there is a silver lining: Curtis Jones is back.
Just when Jurgen Klopp thought his Liverpool side were back to their rampant title-winning best with the injury misfortunes of last season long behind them, his squad have been hit for six.
Well, five actually.
The newly crocked duo of Milner and Keita join Harvey Elliot and Thiago in the treatment room, alongside Fabinho who missed the United game after picking up a knock in Madrid, as Klopp’s midfield misery continues.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the German.
While the evergreen Milner hobbled off clutching his hamstring after 27 minutes at Old Trafford, Jones bounded back into action following a recent spell on the side-lines through injury himself.
Although the extent of the damage done to Milner and Keita, who was stretchered off after being crunched by Paul Pogba, is yet to be revealed, Jones’ return is a massive boost.
Having missed Liverpool’s last two games after picking up a knock while away with England’s under-21s, Jones’ timely comeback will ease Klopp’s woes as he looks to avoid a repeat of last season’s injury-induced troubles.
And now is the time for the 20-year-old to seize his moment.
Prior to his recent setback, Jones began the season brightly, with his rocket at Brentford arguably proving the high point.
The youngster adds versatility and a degree of dynamism to Liverpool’s midfield when he plays, often providing an effective link to the Reds’ ferocious forward line.
Despite his tender years, the midfielder plays with maturity, skill, and an impressive level of intelligence.
His precocious talent was on display for all to see in Liverpool’s 5-1 hammering of Porto in the Champions League where Jones stole the show with a Man of the Match performance.
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The academy graduate sparkled in Portugal setting up two on the night to bring his Champions League tally of assists to four whilst also netting once in his seven competition appearances.
Speaking after the game, Klopp was full of praise for the youngster, highlighting his many qualities he possesses while clearly indicating the club’s plans to utilise him more this season.
“He played a really good game, he was everywhere, he was involved in everything. Set up the first goal with a surprising finish, the goalie cannot save it,” Klopp declared after the Porto game.
“In a lot of other situations, he was really there – maybe not as spectacular as the offensive stuff, but defensively he played a top-class game.
“He defended really well, pressed from the blind side, a lot of things I liked a lot about his performance tonight. So, let’s keep going, Curtis, it was not bad tonight.”
And now Jones is back to full fitness while others around him face layoffs, he really can keep going.
The midfielder has the perfect opportunity to pick up where he left off pre-injury and establish himself as a key component in this Liverpool side.
If Jones can take his chance while most of his midfield competition are absent, he may just take some shifting.