Jon Flanagan returned to first team action against Exeter City in the third round FA Cup replay at Anfield, alleviating Jurgen Klopp's injury crisis at the back. The England international missed the entirety of last season with a knee injury, but is back in contention after providing a good account of himself in the Reds' 3-0 win over the League Two minnows.
The full-back returned as a substitute in the 50th minute, replacing Connor Randall to make his first appearance for the Liverpool side in almost two years. Fans welcomed him on the field, something the youngster would have appreciated after an emotionally tumultuous period.
João Teixeira, Joe Allen and Sheyi Ojo were the other scorers for the Reds, who cruised to a comfortable win over Exeter, partly banishing memories from their 1-0 defeat to arch rivals Manchester United over the weekend.
Liverpool make a visit to Carrow Road as they face Norwich City in the next league clash on 23 January. Flanagan could provide Klopp with more options during the team selection as the Reds look to return to winning ways following their failure to seal victories in the Premier League over Arsenal and United.
Flanagan's arrival is at an opportune moment for the manager, who has had a hectic month thus far. His side have played three more games than his challengers for the top four, with FA Cup replays and the Capital One Cup making it hard for players to get a breather. Klopp expressed his satisfaction at having Flanagan back and described it as an emotional moment for the club.
"When Flanno came in it was a great moment after this long time. To be honest I haven't had him very often in training until now because we need really to be careful with him and it's not allowed to be too intensive. It's always training, break, recovery. He had a few minutes in the U21s. Connor Randall had a little muscle problem so we had the chance to bring Flanno and it was a real emotional moment," Klopp said, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.