Curtis Jones could be set for a much more prominent role for Liverpool in the coming weeks judging by his recent fine form for both club and country.
The 19-year-old central midfielder has been in and out of Jurgen Klopp’s team so far this season, making three Premier League appearances and two in the Champions League.
He has generally impressed when he has been called upon, however, and also shone for England U21s on Friday, scoring and winning the Man of the Match award in their 3-1 win over Andorra U21s.
Liverpool’s mounting injury issues are no secret, especially in defence, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez set to be long-term absentees and Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson also nursing problems.
The lack of options in the centre of defence recently led Klopp to suggest he may need to play another midfielder there, in a similar way to how Fabinho has been converted from a defensive midfielder into a centre-back.
This is also something former Reds player Javier Mascherano did in the latter stages of his career, and Klopp made reference to this.
“We have other options like [Jordan] Henderson, or Gini [Wijnaldum] or James [Milner], or Robbo, he can play centre-half as well,” he said.
“They are all not smaller than Javier Mascherano, for example, and he played pretty well in that position [for Barcelona ].”
If the likes of Henderson or Wijnaldum do, indeed, play at the back, they will need replacing in midfield.
Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also still injured – which is why Jones may well be the man entrusted with filling the shoes of either Henderson or Wijnaldum.
Jones’ fine display for England will not have gone unnoticed by Klopp, and the fact he has already been trusted in huge games this season, such as the European clashes with Ajax and Atalanta, show his manager clearly has faith in him.
Don’t be surprised at all to see Liverpool’s ‘Mascherano plan’ put into action in the Reds’ next game against Leicester – with Jones the man trusted in central midfield.