Lucas out up to six weeks, but Can to stay on back line

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Emre Can, one of Liverpool’s summer signings, has recently found his way into the Reds’ starting lineup in defense. One problem: he’s a midfielder.

Now, it seems there would be an opening in Liverpool’s midfield, but manager Brendan Rodgers may block Can’s potential way out of the back line. With Dejan Lovren a complete disaster and Kolo Toure still recovering from the African Cup of Nations, Rodgers will leave Can as emergency defender.

This is a serious blow to Can’s stock, especially after seeing Lucas withdrawn from a lackluster 0-0 Merseyside derby with a thigh injury in just the 16th minute and subsequent news that the in-form midfielder will miss up to six weeks. Pointing to recent results, Rodgers wishes to change the side as little as possible.

“Lucas has been very important for us but there will be an opportunity for someone else,” Rodgers said to English media. “Eventually, Can will be a player who plays further forwards and there might be games when I do think that but you also have to remember the balance of the team as well, which is very good at the moment. It’s four clean sheets in a row and defensively we have been very strong.”

Following a summer move from Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen, 21-year-old Can received just three starts in Liverpool’s first 18 matches season, but the recent defender crisis has seen him start the last six matches, where the Reds have won four and drawn two, conceding just three goals and none in their last four.

“With Emre you can see the importance of his role and the position he plays in there. He was immense at the weekend in a real physical game,” Rodgers said of the Everton draw. “Why disrupt that and try and fix something that could actually create another problem? The balance of the team is fine at the moment.”

The defender crisis has been heightened by the fact that Rodgers is playing a back-three system, meaning more central defenders are needed. It’s also meant diminished playing time for full-backs such as Javier Manquillo, Glen Johnson, and Jose Enrique, especially since Rodgers has decided to go with Can on the back line rather than one of his full-backs.