While Victor Moses is too young to be drinking in the last chance saloon quite yet, the next few months are likely to have a significant impact on his career. If Moses manages a consistent run of form between now and the end of the season, he may be given the chance to keep supping the high life at Liverpool. But if he continues flattering to deceive, he may have to settle for a pint and a packet of crisps down the local. Closing time is approaching and it remains to be seen where he will end up.
The 23-year-old winger has struggled to settle since joining Liverpool on a season-long loan from Chelsea and he has not started a league game since the 3-1 defeat at Hull City on 1 December. An apparently shrewd signing by Brendan Rodgers, Moses' form has tailed off so drastically that his days at Anfield looked numbered at the start of January after he was substituted at half-time in the 2-0 win over Oldham Athletic in the third round of the FA Cup.
Yet Rodgers believes in a player whose potential at Wigan Athletic persuaded Chelsea to buy him two summers ago and his faith was rewarded by Moses' improved performance in Liverpool's awkward 2-0 victory at Bournemouth in the fourth round. This has to be the start. The top clubs settle for nothing but the best every week and Rodgers' praise for Moses was laced with a warning about the consequences of failing to knuckle down.
"For Victor it is very simple," the Liverpool manager said. "He wants to remain in a position that he will remain at a big club, whether it is Chelsea or Liverpool. There is no bigger motivation than that. In order to do that he needs to be performing day in day out in training.
"If he does really well for us there is a possibility we will want to have him permanently but ultimately it is Chelsea's decision because he is their player. And if he has done really well, then they will want to keep him. When you sample the life of the big institutions like Liverpool, then there's not many that want to leave.
"I have seen improvements in his training. If the top players are training nine or 10 out of 10 every day and you have players who are five or maybe six out of 10 every day, then they are not ready to train with them, never mind play games with them. So you have to get them up to the level."
Moses's goal in the 26th minute, his first since his debut last September, came at an important time for Liverpool, alleviating concerns about the way they were being outplayed by Eddie Howe's vibrant Bournemouth. Set up by Luis Suárez, Moses cut inside from the left and drilled a low shot past Lee Camp from the edge of the area to offer a reminder of his talent. Daniel Sturridge later killed off the Championship side's hopes of an upset after another assist from Suárez.
Perhaps Moses is at the right club because Liverpool are maturing collectively. Last season they were knocked out in the fourth round by Oldham and they had to be resilient to withstand a first-half barrage from Bournemouth. Jordan Henderson feels that will help in their quest to finish in the top four. "I think our mentality is changing all the time," the midfielder said. "The winning mentality is coming. We are not easy to play against and we hate losing. So we just have to keep that going."
That may be easier said than done. Although Liverpool are fourth in the Premier League, their squad has been stretched to the limit by injuries and they go into Tuesday's derby against Everton potentially missing seven senior players. Joe Allen was absent with a knock at the weekend and Rodgers admitted that it may be a risk to involve the midfielder against Roberto Martínez's side, who are a point behind Liverpool.
With that in mind, it is easy to understand Rodgers' frustration about being gazumped by Chelsea for the Basel winger Mohamed Salah whose move to Stamford Bridge was completed on Sunday. Yet Rodgers will not be forced into panic buying this month.
"We'd always want to strengthen," he said. "But if I don't, it won't be because the club hasn't tried. It's getting the right types of players. I think our squad has been thin most of the season. We've just been unfortunate we've had a number of injuries. If I have to work with what I've got, then we will do what I have done all season, maximise what we can get out of them. We know the other squads are massive." In that context Moses will get a chance to prove himself. The rest is up to him.
Man of the match Luis Suárez (Liverpool)