Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has played down his cracked rib and pneumothorax to declare that he’ll not be out for more than two weeks. Carra was injured during a collision with goalkeeper Pepe Reina in Saturday’s defeat of Sunderland. His cracked rib was discovered on Saturday but on Sunday he started to have problems with his breathing and went for more checks at hospital. That’s when the pneumothorax was discovered – a condition that sees air forced into a cavity between the lung and the chest and causes the lung to collapse. He was kept in hospital overnight but hopes to be allowed home today, test results permitting.
He spoke from hospital to local journalist Chris Bascombe of the Liverpool Echo, saying, “Because of the international break, I’m hoping to only miss the next two matches.” He’ll miss the game tomorrow against Toulouse and Saturday’s visit of Derby County, but then Liverpool get two weeks off, not playing again until they visit Portsmouth on September 15th. Assuming they are successful tomorrow against Toulouse the Reds will be commencing their Champions League group stages on the Tuesday or Wednesday after.
Despite the 1-0 lead and away goal from the first leg, Liverpool are not presuming they are through the qualifier just yet. Rafa wants to field a strong team tomorrow and will be heartened by the news that Sami Hyypia is fit despite the broken nose. It does show how flimsy Liverpool’s cover is at centre-back. A fully-fit Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger would be hard to displace, and losing two centre-backs in one game is unusual, but Rafa will be trying hard to get cover before the end of the week.
Gabriel Heinz was seen as a versatile player who’d have been signed to play as a full-back or as cover for centre-back, but that possibility came to an end when the player decided to move to Real Madrid for £5.5m rather than take a chance on getting a Premier League panel that was actually impartial. Liverpool still wait to hear the results of the enquiry that David Gill is supposed to be making into Liverpool’s conduct in that case. How Liverpool can be considered to have “tapped-up” Heinze after being approached by the player’s agent – the agent who had what he thought was permission to offer the player to any club – remains to be seen. No doubt Gill will use United’s conduct in the Carlos Tevez and Jaap Stam transfers as references, as well as answering the rumours that Michael Owen was approached by United over the course of this summer. Manager Alex Ferguson still won’t talk to the BBC after they asked some serious questions about the knighted Scot and his son.
Rafa told journalists at the weekend that he already had some players in mind as potential new signings. After the worries of Saturday he might even be able to persuade the new owners to stump up more than the near-£7m they’d promised for Heinze. Boca Juniors are now the owners of Gabriel Paletta as confirmed by the club yesterday. Part of that deal saw youngster Emiliano Insua’s loan deal, which had an option to buy tagged onto it, turned into a permanent one with immediate effect.
The international break has probably come too soon for Jermaine Pennant to prove himself to sleeping Steve McLaren, but after another impressive performance against Sunderland Rafa Benítez feels it’s only a matter of time before he breaks into the international fold: “He will have an opportunity to play for England this year if he keeps progressing as he has been doing. I’m sure of that. He is gaining more experience at a high level all the time. Now I think he has shown he is good enough to be considered for the national team.”
Rafa would be pleased for the player if he did achieve that ambition, but from a selfish point of view would prefer it if his players weren’t away from Melwood at all during the season: “The only concern I have is, from the club’s point of view, it’s always better to keep as many players as possible to work with them during the week, but I know and understand how important it is for players to play for their country.”
With both the captain and the vice-captain out tomorrow Rafa will almost certainly hand the captain’s armband to Sami Hyypia, and may give Javier Mascherano a run-out in midfield.