IT’S not just international honours which Liverpool’s England contingent are playing for during Euro 2012. The tournament in Poland and Ukraine represents a golden opportunity for those six players to impress new Reds boss Brendan Rodgers.
Many of those in the Anfield squad the Northern Irishman inherited will have to wait until pre-season starts to show him what they can do. But while they put their feet up, all eyes are on Europe’s big stage where talents will be showcased.
During his hugely impressive bow at Anfield last week, Rodgers didn’t shy away from the fact that changes in personnel will be needed for him to instil his own philosophy at Anfield.
“There are some big talented players here but there is no doubt that to get the team to play how I want to play I'll need to bring in other players,” he said. “What we will need to do is make a number of adjustments and bring in players for key positions that will allow us to play that way.”
Rodgers wants Liverpool to play the kind of high-pressing, slick pass and move attacking game that earned Swansea so many plaudits last season. He favours a 4-3-3 formation and won’t settle on having square pegs for round holes.
Of course Steven Gerrard has got nothing to prove over the next three weeks. Rodgers admitted as much when talking about the Liverpool and England skipper he said “when Steven is fit he’s the ultimate”.
Whether Gerrard gets the kind of marauding midfield position he relishes or a more defensively focused role only time will tell, but it’s clear he will remain central to the Reds’ future.
Similarly, Glen Johnson is the kind of attacking full-back ideally suited to Rodgers’ brand of football and is going nowhere.
However, for the other four Reds away on England duty, there is more at stake.
When Rodgers was asked what he admired about Liverpool’s current crop, he went from back to front, starting off by hailing the attributes of Pepe Reina.
But when he got to the midfield it was only Gerrard who was mentioned by name.
Stewart Downing is the fourth most expensive player in the Reds’ history but in his first year at Anfield he flopped badly. The £20million winger admitted this week he was embarrassed by the fact he failed to either score or provide an assist in 36 league appearances.
Team-mates raved about the talent he showed in training on a daily basis but it wasn’t on display come the weekend as he seemed dogged by a chronic lack of self-belief. Downing is set to start against France on Monday and the Euros represents a chance to show Rodgers his true colours.
Jordan Henderson was another signing whose contribution last season didn’t tally with his hefty price tag. Unlike Downing, Henderson has youth on his side but Rodgers will need to be convinced that he has the mindset as well as the ability to be a success at Anfield.
If he enters the fray during the tournament all eyes will be on him.
Forget the furore over Rio Ferdinand’s exclusion, Martin Kelly deserved his late call-up. Any Kopite can testify to the fact that he’s got the full package. Having had a taste at Anfield, Kelly is desperate to establish himself as a first choice somewhere along Liverpool’s backline. If an opening arises for the versatile youngster during the Euros what a stage on which to stake a claim.
Listening to Rodgers talk about his battle plan many wondered where Andy Carroll fitted in. Pressing high up the pitch isn’t exactly his forte.
But if the club’s record signing carries on for England where he left off for Liverpool, when his mobility, physicality and movement were transformed compared to earlier in the season, then any manager would welcome his contribution.
For some, the bigger picture at the Euros involves proving they warrant a spot in the new era which is dawning at Anfield.