For many seasons Martin Skrtel was one of the first names on the Liverpool team sheet, and along with Lucas Leiva, he is one of the longest serving players currently at the club.
While not a defender in the classy sense of the word, Skrtel loved nothing more than a bit of rough and tumble in the penalty box, and has been known to score some key goals over his time at Anfield. He has seen competitors for his position come and go, however this season has been his toughest challenge in his Liverpool career.
Skrtel has rarely been a first choice for Jurgen Klopp since his arrival at the club. This is due to a mixture of injuries and other players who have been chosen ahead of the Slovakian.
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In total, he has only played twice for the club in 2016 and because of that, there has been some discussion that he may entering his last few months at the club. However, he may have been given a lifeline when he needs it the most.
With Mamadou Sahko out for the foreseeable future due to his failed drugs test, a spot has become available in the starting XI for the rest of the season. In Skrtel's absence, Sahko and Dejan Lovren had developed a sound partnership in the heart of the defence.
Against Newcastle United at the weekend, Klopp went with the partnership of Lovren and Kolo Toure which was less than convincing. With Liverpool playing the first leg of their Europa League semi-final clash against Villarreal on Thursday evening, it could be a big chance for the Slovakian to re-establish himself as a part of the defence.
Klopp confirmed earlier this week that Skrtel was displeased to be on the bench against the Magpies. The German will be well aware he can turn that negative into a positive by harnessing the 31-year-old's competitive spirit in a cauldron type atmosphere at the Estadio El Madrigal.
The other bonus for Klopp is that whoever he chooses between Skrtel and Toure, both have big game experience.
On the flip side, both players have the tendency to produce howlers at the worst possible time. Many Reds fans are still furious with Skrtel over his second half performance against Southampton last month. He came on for Lovren at half time when Liverpool were leading 2-0, however, he made a couple of horrendous errors which saw Liverpool cough up their lead to lose 3-2.
On paper there seems to be another alternative with Stephen Caulker at the club on loan from Queens Park Rangers. He has not appeared in a match-day squad since January yet is not listed as injured.
Caulker has also seemingly slipped the mind of the manager, who when discussing defensive cover for the clash in Spain, brought up the name Tiago IIori who isn't even in the Europa League squad. That is definitely not a good sign for the on loan defender.
One thing is for certain, there is bound to be changes in the defensive set-up for Liverpool next season. Regardless what happens with Sakho, Joel Matip has already signed on a free transfer from Schalke.
Skrtel faces a nervous wait and if he is overlooked for Toure again, it is a likely sign that it is time to look to greener pastures.
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