After last season's rise to prominence, Jon Flanagan is set for a new contract and—once he returns from a knee injury—is determined to secure his place in the current squad.
A year ago, if you'd asked most Liverpool fans what they saw in Jon Flanagan's future, they likely would have looked towards the Championship. A few years starting in England's second tier getting regular playing time. Perhaps one day developing into a player who could be a solid mid-table performer in the Premier League. And that would have been about it.
Instead, a year on he's on the verge of signing a new contract while fans wonder if the club really need to keep hold of both the under-performing Glen Johnson and the injury-prone Jose Enrique. Having been given the chance to show he could be a regular contributor to the first team he played a key role in Liverpool's title challenge, and now he wants to take the next step.
"There have been some talks and I should be signing a new contract soon," Flanagan told the Liverpool Echo this week. "It would be reward for all the hard work I've put in. It would be great for me and great for my family as well. All I've ever wanted is to play for Liverpool, and I want to stay here as long as I possibly can."
A knee injury suffered while on Liverpool's pre-season tour has sidelined him for the start of the season, but the early signs this summer were that he would be in line to compete for the role of being Brendan Rodgers' first fullback option off the bench or in case of injury—and perhaps even for a starting role. Nothing seen from others since then suggests he can't still do that.
Alberto Moreno and Javier Manquillo have both impressed in limited action, but Jose Enrique remains a fitness question mark and Glen Johnson a shell of the player who arrived at the club in 2009 as one of Europe's best fullbacks. Now it's just about Flanagan getting over his own fitness question marks and getting back into the action.
"I've been struggling with fluid in my left knee," he said when asked about the injury that cut his pre-season short. "I just felt it during the tour and it's been a bit inflamed. It's just something we have to be careful with. I want to be back out there but I can't rush it—I need to make sure that when I do come back I'm 100%."
While he's unlikely to be ready to face Tottenham on Sunday, Flanagan hopes that he will be ready to face Aston Villa following the international break. On the evidence of the first two weeks, there will certainly be the chance for him to stake his claim when he does return, hopefully with a new contract in hand.
"A massive club like Liverpool are always going to sign top players," he added. "Moreno and Manquillo play in my position but that will just make me work harder. Having good players around you pushes you on. Hopefully I’ll get back in the team. Things went well for me last season and I want to build on that."