After almost five months out injured, ‘outstanding’ Liverpool right-back John Flanagan is on the comeback trail, and despite the increased competition in defence, the combative defender is determined to win his place back in the team.
In an interview today, Flanagan confirmed he’s aiming to be back on the pitch ‘as soon as possible’, and insisted that he’s relishing the prospect of fighting for his place. He told LFC.com Speaking to the official Liverpool FC web
“When I saw that we signed two full-backs, I immediately thought ‘I need to up my game now’. I know I need to consistently do well if I’m to get in the team and then stay there.
“I want to keep developing as a footballer. That’s why not being available has been so frustrating. But competition for places doesn’t bother me. I’m always up for the fight.”
£7m-rated Flanagan put in some good performances last season, but he’s going to face a formidable battle to regain his place in the team.
Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno (Combined value: £17m) look like promising acquisitions, and with the experienced Glen Johnson also in the squad (for now), it’s probable that Flanagan will (initially) be fourth-choice full-back on his return to full-fitness.
He may also suffer as a result of Liverpool’s formation change. In a 343, Rodgers sometimes eschews the use of dedicated full-backs altogether, and that could further limit Flanagan’s first-team chances.
Flanagan seems to be popular amongst Liverpool fans, but I personally can’t see what all the fuss is about. For me, he’s a little overrated; a steady ‘huff and puff’ player with plenty of passion, but nothing exceptional to his game.
To be fair, though, Manquillo seems to very similar in that regard; he’s a solid player, who doesn’t seem to excel in anything specific, unlike, say, Moreno, who clearly has attacking qualities.
Still, I’ll take Flanagan over Glen Johnson any day of the week, and with Manquillo, Moreno, and Flanagan in the squad, Johnson will (hopefully) struggle to play regularly again this season.