Coates may be the future but Liverpool must use him now

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Football News

Daniel Agger’s injury problems will be a real cause for concern for Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish.


Agger’s partnership alongside Martin Skrtel has been a revelation this season, with the Reds conceding just 23 goals in there 25 games – the second best record in the Premier League before the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal which the Dane was forced to miss.


Agger is expected to miss up to four weeks with a rib injury picked up in the Carling Cup final win against Cardiff last month, with Dalglish adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach before putting a time frame on his return.


"Anybody that is injured is a miss. Daniel has been playing fantastically well this year, but we'll miss anybody that is not fit and available," the Scot told Liverpool’s official site.


"The squad is there to cover eventualities, injuries and suspensions and we'll need to cover for Daniel if he's going to be out for a few weeks.”


While the Reds will no doubt be able to cope with his loss for the coming weeks it is his long-term injury worries that will cause no end of consternation at Anfield.


Ill-fortune has followed Agger during his Liverpool career since he made the switch from Brondby in 2006 and largely kept him out of action last season.


Calf and knee tendon problems meant he could only register 16 top flight appearances last time round while he has just over 100 starts to his name in a Liverpool shirt – a low return for his six years at the club.


There is no doubt that Agger has flourished this season given a clear run in the first team without many injury setbacks.


His ability to read the game well has stood him in good stead alongside the more physical Skrtel, while his natural playing game has seen him achieve the third highest pass completion percentage in Liverpool’s entire squad, behind only Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy.


In his absence, Jamie Carragher has stepped into the breach. There are few who are willing to say a bad word about the Liverpool stalwart who has given his all to the club and been present for so many of their recent successes.


Having been forced to take a back seat for much of the season, the former England international may well see Agger’s injury as the perfect opportunity to contribute something positive in a frustrating time for both himself and his beloved club.


However while Carragher steps into the side there is a frustrated young talent on the sidelines, chomping at the bit to get a taste of first team action.


Sebastian Coates arrived at Liverpool with a huge reputation having just won the young player of the tournament accolade at the Copa America over the summer.


Dalglish has already been impressed with the young Uruguayan, expressing his belief that he would enjoy a ‘long career’ and saying he was ‘delighted’ with what he had seen in his short time on Merseyside.


Carragher could have done better for both of Robin van Persie’s goals in the defeat against Arsenal and demonstrated signs of rustiness, with the Dutchman able to lose him with his movement in and around the box.


It would certainly smack of throwing a talented yet untested youngster in at the deep end, although his tournament-winning experience will stand him in good stead, but with the Reds in the midst of a transitional period it may be wise to build up his Premier League experience sooner rather than later given Agger’s susceptibility to injury.


Carragher is no doubt a safe option and there is no question about his ability, but so far Coates has made just two Premier League appearances, his first coming in the galling 4-0 defeat against Tottenham back in September and he needs time to develop.


The veteran defender will not be around forever and when he is gone, although Martin Kelly can operate at the back, Coates is the long-term future at the heart of Liverpool’s defence and will benefit from some game time this season. If Liverpool blood the 21-year-old now they will reap the rewards if and when he is called upon next season.

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Sebastian Coates
Premier League
Daniel Agger

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