The Reds host Sunderland tonight in their first game of 2013 and thankfully the recent illness outbreak appears to have subsided…
Liverpool will look to build on Sunday’s 3-0 win over Queens Park Rangers when they welcome Sunderland to Anfield for a Premier League fixture this evening.
Brendan Rodgers and his 10th placed side will be forced to tackle the game without the presence of left-back Jose Enrique after the impressive Spaniard sustained a hamstring tear at Loftus Road.
The Merseysiders are likely to be without Enrique’s services for at least a month and after confirming the news assistant manager Colin Pascoe acknowledged: “The way he’s been performing these last couple of months has been a joy to watch. It’s a shame, and hopefully he’s not out for too long.”
The 26-year-old was replaced by Suso against QPR with Stewart Downing filling in at full-back. The same thing is likely to happen against Sunderland but there are other options such as youngsters Jack Robinson and Andre Wisdom.
A selection of the latter, who featured prominently earlier in the season, would see Glen Johnson move over from right-back with Wisdom playing on his more natural side instead.
The illness that resulted in Rodgers, reserve goalkeeper Brad Jones and LFC’s head of performance Glen Driscoll all being sent home at the weekend thankfully appears to have cleared up.
A number of other players were affected but played including midfielder Jordan Henderson who was isolated from the rest of the group prior to kick off and even given his pre-match instructions in a separate shower area adjacent to the changing room.
First-team coach Mike Marsh described the unusual situation to Liverpoolfc.com, saying: “We kept Jordan in the shower room until it was absolutely necessary that he came out. We relayed any information through an open door until we actually got outside.
“It was no real hardship, though. Everyone knows the job and when they got out on the pitch, they were fine.
“Jordan was then fantastic in the game and I think he showed us just how much he wants to play for the football club. He was certainly under the weather and you could see that from the colour of his face – he was pasty white.”
Henderson will be hopeful he has done enough to retain his place in the starting eleven but it could be taken by popular Brazilian Lucas Leiva who was rested against QPR before replacing his ill colleague from the bench after 64mins.
Elsewhere, Italian forward Fabio Borini is nearing a return and should be available for selection in a couple of weeks once his match fitness is boosted by a couple of reserve/U21 outings.
Defender Martin Kelly remains at least two months away from a comeback following the reconstructive surgery he underwent to his knee back in September.
Reina, G Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Downing, Lucas, Allen, Gerrard, Suso, Sterling, Suarez.
The Black Cats, currently in 14th place, head to L1 minus a number of key personnel with experienced defenders John O’Shea (hamstring) and Wes Brown (knee) again missing after brief recent returns.
Feisty midfielder Lee Cattermole is also absent with a knee problem and is expected to be unavailable for at least a month meaning local youngster Jack Colback is likely to again cover the role of midfield enforcer as he did against Tottenham Hotspur recently.
On a positive note for Martin O’Neil’s side, on-loan Spurs left-back Danny Rose returns after being ineligible to face his parent club at the weekend.
Mignolet, Kilgallon, Bramble, Cuellar, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, A Johnson, McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher
Vital Liverpool’s prediction: 2-1
Click here to read former Red Mark Lawrenson’s prediction
Follow me on Twitter @superbag
|Not a Vital Liverpool member? It’s a 100% free to join and get involved. Plus it only takes a few moments to sign up. Click here to become a member now!|