THE clock ticked beyond 11pm on last Friday’s transfer deadline day, but Brendan Rodgers was no doubt still contemplating a new arrival at Melwood.
Not that the Liverpool FC manager was harbouring any great hope of enlisting the striking reinforcement his squad so desperately requires.
Instead, Rodgers would have been forgiven for punching in the number of the nearest wholesaler and ordering a job lot of cotton wool.
After all, the Northern Irishman will be doing his utmost to protect Luis Suarez until the transfer window reopens in January.
“We have a very small squad and will play between 25 and 27 games with the group we have before January,” said Rodgers in the wake of last weekend’s dismal 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal.
The manager has done the maths. Between now and the New Year’s Day visit of Sunderland, Liverpool play 18 Premier League games, six Europa League group matches and as many as three Capital One Cup encounters.
That will be some ask for Suarez, particularly as the spearhead of a strikeforce that relies much on movement, and the first line of a defence that asks for intense pressing of the opposition.
Fabio Borini may have the full backing of Rodgers having worked with the Anfield manager at both Chelsea and Swansea City, but the evidence thus far suggests his most recent move is a sizeable step up in class for the Italy international.
Otherwise, unless a free agent is forthcoming, Rodgers must turn to youngsters such as Adam Morgan, handed a full debut against Hearts last week.
Suarez, of course, won’t appear in every game. But international duties will surely take their toll, with the 25-year-old racking up the air miles as he attempts to help Uruguay edge nearer qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
The striker is suspended for Friday’s qualifier against Colombia in Bogota, but will join his team-mates for Tuesday’s clash against Ecuador in Montevideo.
Then, in October, Suarez will link up with the national team for the double header in Argentina and Bolivia, the latter taking place at altitude in capital La Paz.
All told, the Uruguayan will travel in excess of 28,000 miles for those three games. And that’s without taking into account the inevitable midweek friendly that will be arranged during the free date on November 14.
The likelihood is Suarez will be spared, as much is possible, for the Europa League away matches.
But given the difficult draw Liverpool were handed in the competition last week, Rodgers may have to lean more heavily than expected on his chief striker.
Certainly, while the Europa League offered at least some respite for Roy Hodgson during his brief reign, Rodgers is unlikely to be afforded such liberties given the strength of the opposition.
Swiss side Young Boys gave Tottenham Hotspur a scare in a Champions League qualifier two years ago, while Udinese were only denied a place in the elite European competition last month by losing a penalty shoot-out against Braga, who eliminated Liverpool the last time they were in the Europa League.
And then there is Anzhi, the mega-rich Russian side now coached by Guus Hiddink who have qualified for this stage for the first time in their history.
Although based in Dagestan, security concerns mean Anzhi must play their home European games in Moscow.
The fixture schedule, released earlier this week, hasn’t exactly worked out kindly for Liverpool either.
While their opening away game, against Young Boys in Berne on Thursday week, is followed three days later by a home game, it is against Manchester United.
The Stamford Bridge meeting with Chelsea comes immediately after the lengthy journey to Russia in November, and the Udinese game the next month is followed by another London trip, this time against West Ham United.
Rodgers has previously confirmed the Premier League is his priority, meaning the Europa League will be used as a stage for some of Liverpool’s youngsters to stake their claims.
Among them is Jon Flanagan, whose first experience in the first team came as an unused substitute in the Europa League group game against Steaua Bucharest in Romania in December 2010.
“I didn’t get on, but it was great just to be there and see how it all works,” says the defender.
“When you are a young lad, just being included in the squad gives you a real boost.
“It lifts your confidence and makes you think that you are doing something right.”
While having made 15 first-team appearances, Flanagan has yet to be involved under Rodgers and has not appeared since a difficult evening at Blackburn Rovers in April.
The 19-year-old, though, believes he is ready to take the next opportunity that comes his way.
“I’ve worked on my defending and think it’s improved,” he adds.
“Hopefully my forward runs are getting better too.
“It’s a big jump, going from the reserves to the first team. You need time to get used to that.”