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13 reasons why Liverpool cannot get any worse as Premier League football returns

Liverpool have a number of players facing potential World Cup disappointment after the latest international break.


It hasn’t been the kindest international break for the majority of Liverpool players hoping to play at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar this winter.


Sure, Virgil van Dijk , Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez scored for the Netherlands, Portugal and Uruguay respectively, while Alisson Becker started for Brazil in their victories over Ghana and Tunisia, completing the full 90 minutes in both and keeping a clean sheet in the former, but the rest arguably face an uphill battle to either feature prominently in Qatar or even book their place on the plane come November.


With the September international break being the final window before the World Cup, the opportunity for first-hand auditions under the watchful eye of national managers is now over. As a result, it’s going to take something pretty special from individual players in the next six weeks to change the current reckoning.


Having missed out on the latest Spain squad, it would be something of a surprise if Thiago Alcantara forced his way back into Luis Enrique’s thinking, having not featured since Euro 2020 with his international manager since favouring a younger squad.


Meanwhile, although having just returned to training after injury, reigning world champions France’s plethora of centre-back options will admittedly make it difficult for Ibrahima Konate to force his way back up the pecking order and add to his maiden two caps before the turn of the year.


Alisson’s latest outings seemingly emphasise his status as Brazil’s number one goalkeeper ahead of the World Cup. But with Fabinho making a 27-minute substitute outing in one friendly and being left unused in the other, and Roberto Firmino not featuring in either match as he returned to Tite’s squad for the first time since last year’s Copa America final, it’s clear they will be afforded bit-part roles at best.


As for Arthur Melo , while he might have come off the bench late on in Brazil’s final World Cup qualifier back in March, he hasn’t been called up since. With that 13-minute appearance against Bolivia his only outing for his country since November 2020, his place down the pecking order is clear.


Considering he has only played 13 minutes for Liverpool so far following his deadline day loan move for Juventus, spent the international break building up his match fitness with the Under-21s and is one of 10 senior midfield options in Jurgen Klopp ’s squad, his current focus will perhaps be on establishing himself at Anfield before he can even consider knocking on the Brazil door.

As for England, Jordan Henderson was a late inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Nations League clashes with Italy and Germany after returning early from injury, and came on as a stoppage-time substitute on Monday night in the Three Lions’ 3-3 draw with the latter. Yet even without such a lay-off, the emergence of the likes of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham has left the Liverpool captain as a squad option.


Elsewhere, with Harvey Elliott having been left with England Under-21s during the latest break, Southgate spurned the opportunity to work first-hand with the midfielder before the World Cup despite his positive start to the season, perhaps suggesting he isn’t set for a call-up just yet. Meanwhile, the last of Joe Gomez ‘s international caps came in October 2020, prior to the serious knee injury he suffered on international duty the following month, with Southgate’s centre-back selections seemingly secure in his absence and the defender needing to play more regularly for Klopp’s side to stand a chance.


Finally there’s Trent Alexander-Arnold , with plenty being said about his World Cup hopes during the latest international break. An unused substitute against Italy, he failed to make the matchday squad against Germany with Southgate confirming Reece James, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker are ahead of him in the pecking order.

Having started the season out of form, it remains to be seen if the England boss will include all four right-backs, as he planned to do for Euro 2020 before Alexander-Arnold pulled out through injury, or if his latest comments mean the writing is on the wall for the Liverpool defender.


In this unprecedented season, broken up by a mid-season World Cup, such situations could be a blessing in disguise for the Reds as Klopp’s side look to kickstart their campaign following a below-par start to the season. With so many players uncertain of participating in Qatar, the next six weeks on the pitch will be crucial if they are to stand any chance of being involved for their countries.


While international football might not be the most beloved on Merseyside, it remains the biggest stage there is for the players. All of Klopp’s squad will be desperate to participate, even if it is a more likely prospect for some more than others.


Should their hopefuls find form, as Liverpool compete in 13 matches in the space of six weeks, the Reds’ own fortunes will certainly improve. Yet if they miss out on the World Cup, they will instead have additional time on the training pitch with Klopp at a mid-season training camp in Dubai.


Having won their final game before the international break against Ajax, Liverpool will be hoping that upturn in form continues against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday. Ultimately, they need it to if they are to keep their already dwindling title hopes alive.


Consider the Reds’ injury list also finally starting to shorten and with so many of Klopp’s squad having that little bit extra to play for in the weeks ahead, Liverpool are surely poised to benefit.

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