Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has a fight on his hands. The £35million signing from Arsenal joined Liverpool in the summer, hoping he was moving north in search of more Premier League starts.
Last season for the Gunners, in 29 appearances, only 16 came in the starting XI.
In the five league games he’s featured in under Jürgen Klopp this term, he has yet to start.
Going up against Maribor in the Champions League, there may have been an expectation that the England international would have been handed his chance.
Klopp had other ideas and picked his first-choice attacking trio up front – which was a surprise with Sadio Mané out and Tottenham Hotspur coming up at the weekend.
Jordan Henderson missed out on the trip to Slovenia, suggesting that there may have been a place for Oxlade-Chamberlain to come into his preferred role.
“I've always been a central attacking midfielder,” he told Sky Sports after signing for the Reds.
“As I became a professional I got put out wide more. I like doing that as well but I want to be further forward on the pitch.
“I got the feel from coming here that I'd be playing further forward and in attacking midfielder.”
Cold water was poured on that idea during the German coach's Champions League press conference.
“Obviously, it is a different style to Arsenal and a different role to the wing-back role he played in his last games for Arsenal,” said Klopp when asked about the midfielder playing out wide.
“I would say there has been no consistency until now. We let him run so far, let him do what he is naturally good at and it will take time but it's all good. He is obviously powerful and that is what we need.
“At the moment, his best position is more the wing that the No 8.”
Watching as his team-mates smashed four first-half goals past Maribor must have been difficult for the midfielder – you know your own ability and it could have been a case of what could have been.
How many chances would Oxlade-Chamberlain both created and been handed if played from the start. We will have to wait until the return game at Anfield to see if he can earn that opportunity.
He did get his chance off the bench, coming on for two-goal hero Mohamed Salah with 33 minutes to go.
Placed in the Liverpool attack, his role would have been to continue where the Egyptian left off and let his pace and power terrorise the Maribor backline.
However, by then, the Reds had firmly taken their foot off the accelerator and were in cruise control.
The 24-year-old had three shots on goal, two on target and completed one successful dribble.
With four minutes remaining, he did make his mark, latching on to Daniel Sturridge’s inside reverse pass before adding the low finish.
“It will open his chest. It will help him a lot. He could have scored two,” Klopp told the press after the game.
“It was nice from Daniel [Sturridge] how he made this goal, really cool.”
A good moment to help settle Oxlade-Chamberlain down, he no longer has that burden of not scoring for his new club on his back, but in truth it is going to take a lot more for the former Southampton youngster to find his place in this Liverpool team.
He wants to play in the midfield, and you can see him eventually being an asset on the right of the three-man central set-up. But with the German coach less than convinced he is ready for that jump, he could be considered as the Reds fifth option in that role.
Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum is the preferred three.
With Henderson as the anchor, then James Milner – coming off an excellent performance on Tuesday night – and the returning Adam Lallana, Klopp is not struggling for options.
Once Mané returns from his hamstring injury, Liverpool will also have the option of moving Philippe Coutinho deeper into the midfield and playing with the Senegalese forward on the left and Salah on the right.
With just 85 minutes in the Premier League for Liverpool, it’s hard to fully judge his impact off the bench so early in the season, but in terms of his return per 90 minutes, he is way behind any of the other wingers when it comes to shots or completed dribbles.
His 4.2 key passes per 90 puts him top of all players to play more than once, just ahead of Coutinho on 4.1. However, it’s hard to back up those numbers as he has only been involved in 18 per cent of Liverpool’s minutes during the five matches he has featured.
With competition at its peak in the only position where Klopp will use Oxlade-Chamberlain, the Englishman will have to do more and show more in Liverpool's attack with the minutes he is given off the bench.
Until he shows his new boss that he is ready for a role in the midfield, and as long as Liverpool’s front three are in the goals, he may have to content himself with being a substitute for the foreseeable future.