Jonjo Shelvey has his sights firmly set on the Liverpool first team following his successful loan spell with Blackpool. Shelvey scored six goals in 10 appearances for the Seasiders during his stint with the Championship side earlier this term before being called back to Anfield after Lucas Leiva sustained a season-ending cruciate knee ligament injury.
Along with Lucas, the Reds have captain Steven Gerrard (ankle) in the treatment room, while fellow midfielder Jay Spearing was sent off on his first Premier League start of the campaign at Fulham last week and still has two matches of his suspension to serve.
All that means a potential opportunity in the middle for Shelvey and the 19-year-old is keen to show manager Kenny Dalglish he is ready for action.
"I feel that the time I spent away from the club really helped me come on as a player," Shelvey said. "But it also made me realise just how much I want to be playing in Liverpool's first team.
"There's a big difference between Championship football and Premier League football. It's so good to be back in and around the squad.
"I only got on for a few minutes on Saturday [in the 1-0 home win against QPR] but it was really special to be back out there on the pitch in front of the fans. It's always a great honour to play for Liverpool.
"Kenny called me back and, hopefully, now I can show the gaffer what I can do. I've got to deliver day in, day out in training and try to force my way into his plans."
He added: "Obviously, it was really unfortunate for Lucas to get such a bad injury and then for Jay to get a ban as well. With a few players missing there's definitely an opening there, but it's down to the gaffer whether he wants to pick me. When my time comes I'll be waiting and ready to take my chance."
Meanwhile, another Anfield midfielder, Charlie Adam, says he feels no additional pressure to perform in the absence of the likes of Gerrard and Lucas, because it is something he has felt from the moment he joined Liverpool this summer.
"I've always felt responsibility, because when you come to a club like this you have to take responsibility and you can't hide," Adam said.
"The two players we've lost is a big loss for us – one is the captain and one is an international for Brazil.
"It's been difficult, but the lads have come in and done a great job. Hopefully, we can continue that and it will be nice to see them back in the first team."
Across the city, the Everton teenager Ross Barkley believes the Goodison manager, David Moyes, is just the man to get the best out of him. The 18-year-old, who is expected to sign a new long-term contract this week, made his Premier League debut in Everton's opening defeat of the season at home to Queen's Park Rangers.
Barkley is highly rated by both the coaching staff and his team-mates and, although the player is desperate for more first-team involvement, he accepts he will have to be patient.
Moyes has never been reluctant to give younger players a chance, having brought through the likes of Wayne Rooney and Jack Rodwell.
"It can be [frustrating] because I want to play all the time but I fully understand because I am still only very young and the manager knows what he's doing and what's best for me," Barkley told Evertonian magazine.
"He's had young players coming through before. That's what's great about Everton – the manager will always give young players the chance to play at the right time.
"I think I'll play in the FA Youth Cup this season, which will be useful."Reuse content