After Liverpool's recent poor run of form Rafael Benitez may well be having second thoughts about the sort of team he puts out tomorrow night in the Carling Cup. Traditionally a competition used by the bigger teams to blood some youngsters, the boss is thinking more of how he can use it to improve the first team’s performances.
We’ll have to wait and see what he actually does tomorrow night, but he says he’ll be thinking of using a strong side, made up mainly of the senior players who’ve had fewer games this season. He says the competition is important and he wants to try and put out a pretty good team: “I think we need to think about every competition as an option and a target. The Carling Cup is a good competition for us. We were in the final two years ago and we want to win for sure. Youngsters can be an option but we have some senior players that are not playing a lot of games and we will see if they can be involved. Our idea is to use a very strong team if it's possible.”
Reading are also now a Premiership side, and Rafa will be pleased to hear they too are planning on using some youngsters in their squad for the game. According to their official website The Royals will travel for the first ever game at Anfield with a lot of teenagers. Steve Coppell is going to include seventeen-year-old James Henry, eighteen-year-old forward Pierre Joseph-Dubois and central-defender Alex Pearce, seventeen, in the party that travels to Merseyside. He could also add the likes of 19-year-olds Jonathan Hayes, a left winger, and Curtis Osano, a player used either as a defender or holding midfielder.
Somehow, according to the Reading website, Osano is on loan at Aldershot, “but can still play in this game”.
Reading’s boss Steve Coppell was born in Norris Green but after a spell at Tranmere went to join Manchester United. He only won one honour with United – the FA Cup winner’s medal he got in 1977 when United stopped Liverpool from winning a treble including League Champions and European Cup. He managed the Crystal Palace side that sent us crashing out of the FA Cup in the semi-final in 1990, a match they won against all the odds as Liverpool had thrashed them 9-0 earlier that season.