Liverpool manager Brendon Rodgers is considering the tactic of deploying striker Luis Suarez in a wider role once he returns to his squad upon the completion of his 10-match ban, with the Anfield boss looking to find space for both the Uruguayan and in-form striker Daniel Sturridge.
Suarez will sit out the Premier League games with Swansea and Southampton, but he could return from his ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the Capital One Cup third round match against Manchester United.
But with Sturridge in red hot form having scored five goals in four matches – including the winner against United last Sunday – Rodgers has a dilemma on his hands on who to start in attack once Suarez is available again.
One possibility would be to move Philippe Coutinho to a central role and start Suarez out on the wing – a position that Sturridge has played in the past – but Rodgers wants the clubs top goalscorer last season to earn his way back into the side, having tried to force a move away from Anfield during the summer.
Sturridge could play the lone striker role with support coming from Suarez, Coutinho and new loan signing Victor Moses, who has joined from Chelsea on a season-long deal.
Liverpool made a hat-trick of signings on deadline day with the additions of Moses and defensive duo Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Ilori, but one departure saw striker Fabio Borini join Sunderland on a season-long loan.
Rodgers still has plans for Borini, but claims he needs to be playing regular first-team football if he is to develop to his full potential – something that Rodgers can’t afford him at this current time.
Borini only joined the Reds last season and was Rodgers first signing at the club in a £10.5m deal, but he struggled with injuries in his first season on Merseyside and the Italian has joined the Black Cats in an attempt to regain some form.
"He had a stop-start season last year with his injuries and I just felt this year he needed to go and play football,” admitted Rodgers. “With Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suárez, Iago Aspas and some of the other attacking players, that might have been limited.
"I have a real belief in Fabio – he is a talent and we've seen that on occasions, but he needs to be playing regularly to demonstrate that talent. We had a host of clubs wanting to take him, but with Sunderland having the Italian connection there and being a big club where he can go and play, I'm sure he'll get the chance to shine and we'll look closely at his development this year."
Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio made 14 new signings this summer but they have got off to a poor start, with just one point to show from their opening three games and sitting 19th in the league.
However, if Borini can stay fit and replicate the form that led Rodgers to sign him, he could soon force his way back into the reckoning at Anfield.
How Liverpool compare with and without Luis Suarez
Liverpool are actually unbeaten in the Premier League since January when Luis Suarez hasn't played, having played 10 games and winning nine of those, with a single draw also being recorded.
They have taken 28 points from a possible 30 without the Uruguayan, compared to 16 out of 30 with him, giving the Reds a success rate of 53.3% when the striker leads their attack compared to the 84% without him.
Daniel Sturridge has scored three goals in as many Premier League games at the beginning of this season, whereas Suarez had scored just once at the same point last term, although Sturridge has been ably assisted by attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho.Reuse content