As Harvey Elliott crumpled after a challenge by Pascal Struijk, there was an audible gasp around Elland Road that made clear the young Liverpool midfielder had just suffered a serious injury. Mohamed Salah’s panicked reaction also illustrated the severity of the situation, with Elliott soon stretchered off with a broken ankle.
The sight of any player suffering a serious injury is always a sobering one, but even more so when the crocked player is a teenager who has only just made his first team breakthrough at Premier League level. Elliott was on a run of three straight starts having impressed in every game he had played so far this season.
Harvey Elliott, however, should look to one of his teammates for encouragement that he can recover from a serious injury to reclaim his place in the Liverpool first team. Last season, it was Virgil van Dijk who faced a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury. Now, though, the Dutchman is back in the side as if nothing ever happened.
There were fears that van Dijk would lose the physicality and pace that made him the best defender in the European game for a number of seasons, but those fears have been unfounded with the 30-year-old once again a dominant presence at the back for Liverpool. The improvement in their play with van Dijk in the side again has been clear.
With Harvey Elliott in the team, there had been improvement in Liverpool’s play through the centre of the pitch. Jurgen Klopp recognised the need to evolve his midfield following the exit of Georginio Wijnaldum at the end of last season and Elliott looked to be the route to evolution, offering the Reds renewed dynamism and energy.
Now that Elliott is sidelined for the foreseeable future, Liverpool will lose that dynamism. This is another reason why the teenager’s injury is so disappointing – Elliott isn’t just one for the future, he was contributing significantly in the present. Liverpool will be a poorer team for the young midfielder being in the stands.
Of course, Liverpool have the depth to cover for Elliott. Henderson replaced the teenager in the win over Leeds after recovering from his own injury troubles over the summer. Thiago Alcantara is looking increasingly comfortable, and influential, as a Liverpool player while Fabinho, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all excellent options too. But Elliott gave Klopp something slightly different.
“Do I want such a young boy early in his career to have this experience? No, but now it’s the case so we have to be there and we will be there,” Klopp said after the win over Leeds United which was tainted by Elliott’s injury. “We’ll play football without him but we will wait for him as well because obviously he’s a top player.”
Fortune hasn’t exactly been on Liverpool’s side with with regards to injuries over the last two seasons and the injury to Harvey Elliott is just the latest addition to an unwelcome trend. It wasn’t just van Dijk who found himself on the sidelines for a spell last season, it was Fabinho, Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip too.
Anfield is a good place for Elliott to be in this situation. Liverpool know how to nurse a player back to health having done it so many times recently. Klopp’s comments suggest he won’t forget about the teenager and so Elliott can likely still look forward to a bright future in red. The injury he suffered at Elland Road on Sunday might stunt his Liverpool career for the time being, but it won’t end it.
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