EMRE CAN admits he faces a fight to force his way back into Jürgen Klopp’s first-team plans.
The Germany international, 22, made only his third appearance of an injury-hit start to the season in Tuesday’s League Cup win at Derby County.
An ankle injury hasn’t helped Can’s cause and he was also one of the latest players to return to pre-season training after his Euro 2016 involvement, allowing other players to nip ahead of him as Liverpool’s season got underway.
He may have been a favourite of Klopp’s last season, but he now has to fight his way back past captain Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana — who has been a revelation after being reinvented in a deeper role than he is used to — and £25million summer signing Georginio Wijnaldum.
“They have done it very well,” Can said in reference to the midfield threesome.
“Adam, Hendo and Gini have played well together and you can see by the results and the good football.
“Every player has to start from zero and myself as well. Now I am fit, if I get game-time I want to show myself again and also in training.
“We bought very good players and everyone is nearly fit and we have a strong squad. If you saw the last few games, we were very strong and we have to keep it up.”
Klopp has spoken of wanting healthy competition for places at Liverpool, encouraging players to up their levels to get regular first-team football.
And Can added: “If you play with good players, the levels go up — it is normal. It’s not easy but I have to be patient. I try to train hard and if I get game-time then I try to play well and then we will see what happens.”
Klopp made seven changes for the trip to Derby yet Liverpool won at a canter, and the manager has admitted he has some selection headaches to deal with when Hull arrive at Anfield on Saturday.
Summer signing Ragnar Klavan returned to the team to give Dejan Lovren a break on Tuesday and scored his first goal for the club. But he is unlikely to make the team-sheet at the weekend, with Lovren set to return to the starting 11.
Klavan said: “We have a really good team so everyone is really focused even if they don’t play every week but you saw (against Derby) if they get a chance everyone wants to show for the manager.”
There is even competition in goal, where Loris Karius made his debut after recovering from a broken finger.
Klopp is sticking to the line that there is no official first-choice between the sticks, suggesting it is a straight fight based on performances between the Germany international, a £4.7m summer signing from Mainz, and Simon Mignolet.
Perhaps with that in mind, Karius was deep down disappointed that he didn’t have more opportunity to showcase his talent against Nigel Pearson’s side.
It was a one-sided game against the Rams, although Karius’ high starting position didn’t go unnoticed among fans, particularly when he was quickly out to beat Darren Bent to a loose ball.
It helped him get a vote of confidence from Klavan.
“I knew it already in Bundesliga, he was a really good keeper and was quick to come out,” said the Estonian, a former centre-back with German club Augsburg.
“We are moving forward as a whole team and as a last line we have to be higher and it is nice when you have a keeper who is able to come out.
“I can only say what he was in the Bundesliga and what I have seen in training. He is good with his feet, he is quick coming out and he is not afraid to come out for high balls and everything so in my eyes he is a really good keeper.
“I can hear him (talking to players).”