Former Liverpool forward John Barnes has insisted that midfielder Thiago Alcantara must work to earn game time when he returns to fitness.
Thiago suffered a knee injury in October’s 2-2 draw with Everton and has not featured since.
But with several other Reds stars including Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson facing fitness issues, there is hope that the Spaniard’s arrival could lift the gloom.
Indeed, one pundit has suggested that Thiago will play a “major role” when he gets back on the pitch.
According to Barnes, though, the 29-year-old will not walk into Liverpool’s team amid the injury crisis.
“When you are playing regularly that is when you can cement your position within the team,” Barnes said. “But due to injuries Thiago hasn’t been able to do that and played only a handful of games.
“He will be in contention to play, depending on the game. If Liverpool are facing opposition who defend in numbers and defend deep, then Thiago is the man who can create something from nothing.
“He is not necessarily one of the first names in the midfield three even before he was injured.”
Barnes feels the same is true for forward Diogo Jota, who has scored seven goals in 11 games since his arrival. What’s more, the Portuguese displaced Roberto Firmino in the side against Manchester City.
Jota must also work for role
“It is the same with Diogo Jota, both players are giving Liverpool options and have the same quality as the other players but are not certainties to start each week,” Barnes added.
“Jota has scored so many goals since he joined, and he doesn’t start all the time. It is not a question of playing well it is all about the balance of the team, who compliments who.”
While Thiago will likely remain on the sidelines for the time being, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp faces potential selection headaches elsewhere. Captain Henderson may miss Sunday’s huge clash with Leicester, with Mohamed Salah definitely out.
But it is in defence where Klopp could shuffle his pack the most. With Joe Gomez and Van Dijk both out – and concerns remaining over Fabinho – he could play a fringe player alongside Joel Matip.
Should that be the case, Ian Wright feels Foxes striker Jamie Vardy will be looking to expose the hosts’ weakness.
John Barnes was speaking to BonusCodeBets