It’s clear after Liverpool’s farcical 3-1 loss at West Ham over the weekend that there are a number of situations vacant in the heart of the Reds’ midfield, with captain Steven Gerrard in particular shaping as if everything is happening far too quickly around him.
Against Middlesbrough at Anfield in the Capital One Cup, where the visitors are a healthy 5/1 to serve up a fourth Liverpool defeat in the last six all-competition matches, 17-year-old Jordan Rossiter is expected to feature in the centre of the park for his local club.
Rossiter is yet to make a senior Reds appearance, having come through the Under-18, NextGen and Under-21 ranks on Merseyside, but the teenager may find his first-team chances multiplied off the back of a strong showing against Boro.
With new signing Emre Can, who’s only three years older than Rossiter but is expected to become a regular in midfield following a £10m move from Bayer Leverkusen, ruled out until the end of October boss Brendan Rodgers is bereft of new ideas in midfield.
Lucas Leiva was hauled off after 45 minutes at the Boleyn Ground and replaced by Adam Lallana, who’s nobody’s idea of a deep-lying midfielder. Liverpool did little better with the Brazilian out of the way, losing the second half 1-0.
Joe Allen has never been a fans’ favourite since Rodgers shelled out £15m for the former Swansea man two years ago, and the Wales international is also currently on the Anfield injury list, leaving the gaffer with practically no scope to make midfield changes.
Rossiter is described as an ‘authoritative central midfield presence, the young Scouser boasts an extensive passing repertoire with either foot and has an eye for goal too’ on Liverpool’s website.
Reds fans will be crossing their fingers that the first two-thirds of that analysis are accurate; last year’s Premier League runners-up aren’t desperately short of goals, having struck at least once in five of their six fixtures so far in 2014/15 and nine altogether.
The defensive dereliction of duty at Upton Park suggests Rodgers’ backline is in greatest need of attention, but the way West Ham newboys Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia scythed through Liverpool’s soft centre on the counter-attack means a midfielder of substance must be sought in January.
For now, Rossiter might get the chance to stake a claim if he can impress on debut.
Liverpool are 8/15 to win the match, with Middlesbrough at 5/1 and the draw 3/1.