This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Having featured for 23 minutes as a substitute in the Community Shield before being an unused substitute against Norwich City on the opening day of the Premier League, Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita was surely in with a good chance of starting the Super Cup against Chelsea in Istanbul.
However, the club reported on the same day that the Guinea international was set to miss the clash against the Blues with a muscle strain, and it continued his unfortunate run of luck pretty much ever since he has been an official Reds player.
For example, just when he was hitting some good form towards the end of the 2018/19 campaign with five starts and three goals in April, as per Transfermarkt, he suffered a groin issue that kept him out for the remainder of the season.
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The same thing has happened again now and as well as being absent against Chelsea, he was also ruled out against Southampton at the weekend.
It was another big missed opportunity for the 24-year-old with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson both rested following their exertions in Turkey, meaning two central midfield spots were up for grabs.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who missed almost the campaign last time out, came in having featured and struggled on the left wing against Frank Lampard’s men, and he did a good job.
The 26-year-old is another individual looking to work his way back into manager Jurgen Klopp’s plans following a long injury lay-off, with plenty of competition for places in the middle of the pitch.
The former Southampton man largely took his opportunity and impressed from a defensive point of view, expertly covering for Trent Alexander-Arnold on one occasion when Nathan Redmond was breaking down the left wing.
Injuries have undoubtedly been one of Keita’s biggest concerns in recent months, but his latest issue may well have also seen him slip a further place down the pecking order.
Far from ideal.