Liverpool will be worried about the ageing Jordan Henderson, and what a reduced version of him will do to their midfield, according to Kenny Cunningham.
The former Republic of Ireland captain was on The Football Show on Monday reacting to the 2-2 draw between Manchester City and Liverpool on Sunday.
It was a top-of-the-table clash that could have determined the outcome of the Premier League if there was a definitive winner.
However, Cunningham believes that the draw did reveal a worrying trend for Jurgen Klopp going forward.
He felt that Liverpool were protecting Jordan Henderson, which shows that the 31-year-old midfielder might not be able to keep up with his old self on the pitch anymore.
"Klopp is looking at him, for whatever reason, he sees him in training everyday... they are basically saying to him that this lad can't play physically at the level that he did two years ago," Cunningham said.
"That's what it looks like to me. They are being careful, they have to wrap him in cotton wool. I'm not saying that Jordan Henderson's career is over at Liverpool. Of course it's not.
"I think he is going to be a key player going forward over the next year or two. But I think that Jordan Henderson at his best, that player we saw two years ago is slowly diminishing.
"He is going to have to find a slightly different role in the team going forward. That would be a small worry for me."
For Cunningham, Henderson playing at his best, in a pressing role, is part of the DNA of Klopp's Liverpool. Without him firing on all cylinders, Cunningham can already see the cracks forming at Anfield.
"That DNA of that Liverpool team in terms of the drive, pace and energy in that central midfield area, he was the one driving it," Cunningham said.
"If he's not going to be that type of player going forward, that would be a slight worry for me in that central midfield."
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🗣 'That would be a small worry for me going forward'
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Fabinho is not the answer
While Cunningham acknowledged that Fabinho is a great player in his own right, he felt that the match against City showed just what Liverpool are lacking without Henderson in form.
"You look at Fabinho yesterday," Cunningham said. "Fabinho is a good player, but that would be the worst game I've seen him play in a Liverpool jersey.
"He looked all at sea. He was arriving a little bit late. Players were going past him. The Kevin de Bruyne goal was an example of that, he just dropped the shoulder and got away from him.
"I know that he has no recovery anyway, he's not the quickest, but he's a great reader of the game. He senses where the ball is going, he intercepts the ball perfectly well.
"His go-go-gadget legs, sticks out a toe, intercepts the ball and wins the ball back. He's great at that. But he just wasn't there yesterday."
Cunningham feels that Liverpool may need to sell one or two of their central midfielders in order to get one top class midfielder that can do what Henderson used to do for them.
"For me, Henderson in a reduced capacity going forward, that's a small issue for Liverpool," Cunningham said. "They are going to have to rectify that.
"Liverpool are going to spend again going forward, whether it is in the summer or the window after that. They are going to have to spend big on a central midfield player.
"People are going to say, 'you're joking! They've got about six or seven, they've got too many anyway!'
"I think they may have too many central midfielders, but you might have to sacrifice two or three of them, get them out the door, and get one top class midfielder into the football club."
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