Emre Can could become a future Liverpool captain, according to assistant manager Colin Pascoe.
With Steven Gerrard departing for Los Angeles in the summer, the captaincy role is up for grabs and Can is one of a few players who will be looking to stake his claim.
Despite only arriving last summer from Bayer Leverkusen for £10 million, the Turkish international has adapted into both a defensive and midfield role when called upon.
Can has played in a defensive three in the last few games but was moved into a midfielder role during the Reds' 3-2 win over Tottenham on Tuesday night when Gerrard limped off with a hamstring problem expected to keep him out for a few weeks.
Lucas Leiva has also been ruled out for four to six weeks leaving a lack of personnel in the middle of the park for Brendan Rodgers' side. Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen are the only fit central midfielders at this time.
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But with Can providing stand out performances in defence, Rodgers may be reluctant to move him higher up the pitch.
Pascoe knows the 21-year-old has time on his side and may one day be leading the team out at Anfield. "He is young, he is learning his game, but in years to come I am sure he will progress to be one of them," he said, brought to our attention by ESPN.
"He is a leader on the pitch and the way he is playing he has been fantastic. But at the moment he himself is probably not even looking at that sort of thing.''
Pascoe also praised how despite the fact he has been forced to play in several different roles this season, Can has not complained once.
"He is a great lad and a good player," - Colin Pascoe on Emre Can
"When we were monitoring him to come into Liverpool he could play at centre-half but the opportunity arose for him to go into a back three - where he has been fantastic.
"But you could see the other night [against Tottenham] when he stepped into midfield he does want to play there, it is his position, and he is a great asset. He is a great lad and a good player. He hasn't moaned about anything or knocked on the manager's door, he has waited for his chance and grabbed it with both hands.
"If Emre Can had to go into midfield there is another possibility but with Jordan and Joe there we have enough cover.''
The Welshman, who spent a considerable amount of his playing career at Swansea City, also praised the contribution of Mario Balotelli. The Italian came off the bench to score the winner against Spurs and Pascoe says that he's put himself in contention once again despite the re-emergence of Daniel Sturridge.
A sign of things to come?
"Mario is Mario. He comes in every day, works hard. He is one of those guys who when he is out there he wants to work well,'' said the assistant manager. "It was great for him the other night when he got his goal. It is not about one player, it is about the group, and the next game with all the players available.
"He has put himself out there for selection for the next game with his contribution the other night. Every team is picked for certain occasions. Mario probably does need a run of games but Daniel Sturridge had come back in as well and all strikers need a run of games.''
Pascoe was speaking ahead of Liverpool's clash at Crystal Palace on Saturday in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The Merseyside club have struggled in south London in recent times, losing 3-1 at Selhurst Park in November.
They famously blew a three-goal lead against the Eagles in May to draw 3-3, which all but extinguished their title hopes, and Pascoe says the club must not dwell on past results and focus firmly on the upcoming game.
He told the Liverpool Echo: “You never look back, you look forward and be positive – Palace is a tough place to go, we know that, we go there positive and go there for the win.”
“The manager said [Palace in November] was a low point in the camp and you look for a reaction off that kind of result.
“We've tweaked the system, the group have responded fantastically. The way they've come back and played, the attractive football they're playing at the moment, from that day, it was a great reaction.”