Liverpool’s injury problems lingered on as the Reds prepared to head south for the Fulham game tomorrow. Steven Gerrard was already expected to miss tomorrow’s game with the groin injury he first sustained when on England duty, he’s also been joined by Glen Johnson. And after making his debut in midweek Alberto Aquilani might now be sidelined thanks to a virus.
Boss Rafa Benitez gave the news to the official Liverpool FC website: “Gerrard still has a problem with his groin so he won’t be available this weekend. At this moment he’s working with the physios. He has to keep working and we’ll decide next week how he progresses.
“Johnson has a small tear in his calf, so we will lose him for maybe one week.” Also missing are Martin Kelly, with an ankle injury, and Albert Riera, with a hamstring injury.
Aquilani looks doubtful says Rafa: “In terms of fitness he’s doing well. His ankle is coming on well. The problem we have now is that he has a virus, so it will be difficult for him to be available. We will see this afternoon how he feels but he was a little bit sick yesterday. He wanted to play against Arsenal and was really pleased to go. He wants to go and play against Fulham but we’ll have to decide how he feels.”
Rafa admited after Sunday’s win over Manchester United that Fernando Torres had only been at a limited level of fitness for his goalscoring return but is hopeful he’ll be worth the risk again this weekend: “He is improving. He’s been training and working with the physios. We will see if he is a little bit better this weekend. It’s a difficult situation because if you play games, you often don’t have too much time to get fit again.”
Javier Mascherano is available for the game having served his suspension for the red card last weekend by missing out on the Arsenal game in midweek. The midfielder says Liverpool have to come back down to earth now after last Sunday’s big win and focus on the job in front of them: n the Barclays Premier League. “We knew how important the game against United was and how much the fans enjoy it if we beat them. We are really happy for all of the supporters because they have been behind us all the time. But it was just three points and we have to keep going.”
He wants Liverpool to put the same amount of effort in at Craven Cottage: “We can’t afford to be thinking about beating United and then, in this instance, go to Fulham and not play at the same level. If we want to fight for trophies we need to carry on and maintain the same level.”
Now Javier says Liverpool have to keep going out to win to see where that gets them: “In this league, everything is tight. If you can win four or five games consecutively, you can be at the top. That is the target for us now – we want to try and win some games in a row. We are confident in ourselves. We know if we are in good form and playing at a good level, we can play against any team in the world and win.”
When Liverpool went down there last season it looked like ending 0-0 despite all the efforts Liverpool had made to score. Then after normal time was over Yossi Benayoun hit a memorable winner, as Mascherano recalls: “It was a really difficult game for us there last season and we missed a lot of chances. Yossi came on for the last 15 minutes and scored, which kept us going in the title race.”
Mascherano believes Fulham are a difficult side, all the more reason for a repeat of the performances from last weekend: “Fulham play good football and have players with quality. It will be a difficult game for us again, but we have to go to Craven Cottage with the same mentality we approached the United game with. We have to be focused on our next game. In this case it is Fulham, so we have to try to win there and carry on.”