Reds v Newcastle – Carrol on bench, Johnson returns

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll’s former club Newcastle United visit Anfield today and although the number nine has not recovered in time to start the game he has been passed fit for a place on the bench against the club he grew up supporting.

Full-back Glen Johnson makes his return from injury today too meaning 17-year-old Jack Robinson drops to the
bench. 18-year-old Jon Flanagan starts again at right-back.

The game also sees vice-captain Jamie Carragher – skipper until the end of the season due to Steven Gerrard’s injury problems – reach another landmark for the club. This is his 665th appearance, putting him joint second with Emlyn Hughes and Ray Clemence in the Liverpool appearances chart.

Three points from this clash is important for Liverpool who now find themselves in a position where a fifth-placed finish, and in turn a European spot for next season, is in their own hands. If Liverpool win all four of their remaining games, including this one, they’ll finish ahead of current fifth-placed side Spurs. One of those four games is the visit of Spurs to Anfield. A win today would see them move into fifth.

Neither club ends the season with the manager in place at the beginning still in charge. Alan Pardew was in charge for the reverse fixture at St James’s Park earlier in the season, it was his first match after taking over from Chris Hughton. Roy Hodgson’s sorry side lost 3-1 that day, Andy Carroll getting the Magpies’ final goal.

Much has changed at Anfield since that meeting took place, not just the installation of Dalglish and the signings of Carroll and one of today’s starters Luis Suarez. Liverpool are full of belief – but don’t go into this game assuming it’s won before they’ve left the dressing room. Kenny won’t let them make those kinds of assumptions.

It’s an early kick-off – 12 noon.

Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Lucas, Spearing, Maxi, Meireles, Kuyt, Suarez
Subs: Gulacsi, Kyrgiakos, Robinson, Shelvey, Cole, Ngog, Carroll

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