Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry was asked if he felt it was right for Liverpool to consider using an injured Steven Gerrard in today’s league clash with Chelsea, yet to expect England to rest him for their meaningless friendly against Germany on Wednesday.
Gerrard has a hairline fracture in his toe, and the advice from Liverpool’s club doctor is that using Gerrard would be a risk, and Rafa must now decide whether it is a risk worth taking. Chelsea are still being left guessing as to whether Gerrard will play a part in today’s game. The player sustained the injury on Wednesday and Rafa will have used training session to help make his mind up on not just if his captain could suffer further damage if played, but also if he would be able to perform well enough to warrant a place.
Once those decisions are out of the way and the game is over Gerrard has to go and join up with England for their medical staff to assess the player’s fitness. Liverpool’s decision to declare the player official ‘fit’ for today means England have the right to use Gerrard as they see fit. But Liverpool are insisting that he does not play. Parry explained: “It’s the sort of injury that is going to need careful nursing and rest. If we had two games in a week, we’d be looking to rest him in one of them. Our focus is Liverpool, getting the right results and winning trophies for Liverpool.”
That focus is a big part of the reason that Jamie Carragher decided to call time on his own England career. Carra didn’t see the point at 29 of trying to force his way into the manager’s plans as a first-choice, because there was nothing more that he could do to convince the manager. And more importantly, he wanted to do all he could to bring more silverware to Anfield. So this week, instead of being involved in training sessions with England and sitting on a bench watching others, he’ll be at Melwood working with a coach he knows appreciates his talents.
Still on the subject of England, one of Carra’s best mates is former Liverpool striker Michael Owen. Owen chose to leave Anfield during Rafa’s first summer as boss, refusing to sign a new contract and instead joining Real Madrid. A year later, unwanted by Madrid, he chose Newcastle to be his new club, a club now under their third manager since he joined. Despite what is said in public, it’s pretty clear that Owen is not keen to stay on at Newcastle, but injuries suffered in the close season meant no other clubs showed any real interest in signing him for the minimum fee his contract allows. Parry was asked if Liverpool would be interested in adding him to their squad: “Certainly not in this transfer window and I very much doubt in the next one.” Owen’s former number 10 shirt is now in use by midweek scorer Andriy Voronin.
Parry – speaking to BBC Radio Five Live – said that although there are no demands on Rafa to win the league, the expectations are that they need to be contenders going into the final couple of months of the season: “It’s going to be a really competitive league this year. The main thing really is to be in with a shout come March-April. The difference this season is that we’ve got quality in depth, this year, we’ve genuinely got two players for every position.”