Brendan Rodgers predicts Emre Can will have a substantial role to play in the remainder of Liverpool's 2014-15 season – and indeed an even brighter future at the club – after his assured cameo showing at Burnley on Boxing Day.
The 20-year-old was introduced as a half-time substitute at Turf Moor, replacing Kolo Toure and being deployed in a role on the right of the Reds' three-man central defence.
It was only his 10th outing since his summer switch from Bayer Leverkusen, and despite playing most of his previous nine appearances in a midfield berth, Can slotted seamlessly into the visitors' backline as they secured a vital 1-0 win.
Rodgers felt the German U21 international's impact was a key factor in the victory, and is confident his influence will continue to grow over the second half of the campaign - particularly given the No.23's versatility.
Speaking to journalists at Melwood, the manager said: "He played centre-half in one of the games I took in last year when I went to see him. He played there in a 4-2-3-1.
"He's got a big future here, Emre. It's just been curtailed a little bit from the summer when he was trying to gain his fitness and he was injured - he had an ankle issue that made him miss training and he was in and out.
"He's got great athleticism and you saw his presence on the pitch [at Burnley]. He is an outstanding footballer and is a very, very young player who is just acclimatising to the game here.
"His favoured position is more of a defensive player, even though I've played him in an attacking role because I think that's something he can do more of. But if you asked him his profile, he likes to be in that sitting role where he can play and dictate the game as well as be physical in the challenge and duels.
"I thought he came on and was outstanding [at Burnley]. We needed to build the ball better, our possession wasn't so good and we lost the ball too quickly, which didn't give us a chance to get into good positions on the field in order to keep the ball.
"Him coming on gave us that assurance in possession and also physicality when we didn't have the ball.
"He's a player I know can play in a number of positions and play them well. He's someone whose influence will become greater as the season goes on."
Meanwhile, Rodgers also had words of praise for the roles his attacking quartet played in securing Liverpool's three points against Burnley.
Raheem Sterling struck the game's decisive blow, netting on 62 minutes to settle the contest with his third goal in as many matches; however, the strike was crafted by a magnificent piece of play by Philippe Coutinho.
Rodgers was delighted with the manner in which the duo, as well as Adam Lallana, linked up - and was also pleased with Rickie Lambert's contribution after he entered the clash as a late substitute.
"Adam and Phil are playing in that little role [behind the striker], which suits them perfectly," said the boss.
"They've got wonderful feet and so they are very good in tight spaces. The key is the work-rate, as well - they press the ball well and work very, very hard.
"Raheem and anyone with that type of pace will always stretch teams and always make defenders think.
"He's a different type - he's not your natural No.9, but for me it's more about the position rather than the player for the team to function well. That pace in the team is very important for us.
"Rickie Lambert was important for us when he came on at Burnley. He could hold the ball up in that period of the game when we needed it, so it's good to have the options to be able to put in that role."