Momo could be back tonight’s FA Cup game

Strong rumours coming out of the Liverpool camp this morning that the Reds will see the return to action tonight of Momo Sissoko, who’s been out of action with an eye injury initially feared bad enough to end his career. Although there has been no official confirmation from Anfield, stories say Momo is in tonight’s squad and may even start. There could also be a return from injury of John Arne Riise.

Liverpool played a 5-3-2 formation on Sunday against Newcastle and there’s no way of telling yet whether Rafa intends to use the same system tonight. He is worried about the close proximity of the two fixtures, and so is likely to make whatever changes he feels he can. Robbie Fowler is not involved tonight of course – he is cup-tied for the game after playing in the third round for Manchester City. Some newspapers have him listed in their “possible” line-ups for tonight, and even the fact Robbie scored a goal for the reserves last night hasn’t rung any alarm bells for them. Whether Momo is fit to return tonight or not, there’s almost certainly going to be a recall for Xabi Alonso.

According to the Liverpool boss this fixture schedule shouldn’t be allowed to happen in this way. Rafa and his staff take physical fitness very seriously and the boss says the game tonight is a huge risk: “It is impossible – you cannot prepare a team to play 100 per cent two days after a fixture. That is why we used a different system on Sunday and we will use some different players at Birmingham. After you play a game you often feel fine on the first day but it is on the second day that things are worse and your muscles are sore. On the third day you are maybe back to 70 per cent but you cannot play at the same level.”

The Spaniard continued: “You need time to eat properly, rest and
recuperate. This game has come too quickly. It’s crazy. There is also a
greater risk of injuries when players have to play two games in three

For Momo Sissoko a return tonight would put behind him a period in his
young life he found greatly upsetting. Speaking to Liverpool FC’s
official website, Momo said the thoughts of his career being over had
him in tears: “It was an awful time. There were lots of lonely hours at
home when I was very worried and very scared about what was going to
happen. It was such a bad injury. I don’t mind admitting I cried a lot.
I thought ‘this can’t be happening to me’. It didn’t seem possible that
I could be in this situation. I just had to lie there and rest and hope
that my vision would get better. It was only a couple of weeks but it
felt much, much longer.”

One of the reasons the couple of weeks seemed to last so long was
because he found himself bored: “When we came home from Portugal I was
told to rest completely. I couldn’t do anything, not even watch the
television. It was very boring but I had no choice. I knew I had to
follow the advice to give myself the best possible chance of recovery.
My family, my girlfriend, my manager, the players and even the
president of my country were speaking to me and wishing me well.”

Momo also sent a message to the Liverpool supporters who have made sure
the Malian international knows just how well-liked he is: “I want to
say a special thank you to all the Liverpool supporters who wrote to me
and who left messages wishing me well. It meant a lot to know I had so
many people caring about me. Rafael Benitez stayed in touch while I was
at home and he always tried to give me confidence that I would make a
recovery and come back into the team.”

Sissoko spoke of the improvement he noticed every day, and how that
gave him the hope that he was going to be playing again soon: “The good
thing is my vision did get better every day. That’s what gave me the
confidence that everything was going to be okay. Three weeks ago I had
zero vision in my right eye, now it’s about eighty per cent so that is
a quick recovery. It’s hard to say if it’ll ever be perfect. There’s a
chance it might but also a chance it might not. Only time will tell.
The big thing for me is I can play football again. That’s all I want to

Momo says he feels in good shape physically too, he’s been back in
training for a couple of weeks now and is happy to get back on the
pitch as soon as Rafa says he’s ready: “Physically I feel very good but
it’s down to the manager now when he feels I’m ready to play again. The
derby this weekend may be a bit early, but I’d love to return in time
for that match.”

If Momo plays tonight then obviously it will be ideal, because the
hustle and bustle of the derby may be a little too much for a player
that will be wearing a protective “mask” to avoid further injury to his
eye. He wants to just move on now though: “What has happened has
happened but that part of my life is closed now. I’ve had a bad
experience but everything is okay and I just want to look to the