Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has insisted that Joe Allen is a "very important" member of his squad at Anfield.
The 25-year-old has often been on the fringes of Klopp's starting lineup ever since the German arrived on Merseyside in October.
However, Klopp has stressed that he has never viewed the midfielder as anything other than a first-team player.
"For me, Joe Allen was always a first-team player. He was not in the lineup a few times, that's true," the boss told reporters.
"But, if I can go a few months back, when I came here he was with the national team. Before that he was injured, he was not 100% fit, but there was no doubt about quality.
"I like his style, he's very important for us, he shows what he is able to do and everybody knew it better than I did."
Wales international Allen has scored twice from his 20 appearances for club and country this season.