Liverpool’s first team are lacking out-and-out strikers right now, with Cisse, Pongolle and Mellor part of Liverpool’s long injury list. Add to this Morientes just back from injury, but not available for Champions League matches. In addition, Milan Baros has served one game of his three-game domestic ban from his derby red card. This lack of strikers is extended to the reserves too. Liverpool’s availability of strikers is diminished throughout.
Liverpool’s Reserve manager, Hughie McAuley, is missing one of the most prolific goal-scorers Liverpool reserves have ever had in Neil Mellor. Mellor was Liverpool’s hero in the league game against Arsenal at Anfield earlier in the season, scoring a spectacular winner with practically the last kick of the game, but has also fallen foul of the injury bug sweeping through the club. He did get the rare use of Xabi Alonso for the second half, as the Spaniard tried to get some football in after a long lay-off with a broken ankle.
McAuley, talking to the official LFC site, said: “I felt we stepped it up in the second half and we got more crosses into the box and created good chances. What we have missed is a goalscorer like Neil Mellor. If he wasn’t injured and was playing regularly then we would win more games than we have done.
“We were more composed in the second half and obviously the man in the middle Alonso makes a difference when he comes on and starts passing the ball around. Xabi got everybody playing and I just wish we had started the game with the tempo we showed in the second half.
“Individuals did better in the second half. Ryan Wilkie did very well on the left wing and Richie Partridge had a lot more joy on the right. We exposed them at times and we should have scored goals from them.”
If there’s one positive to come out of the injury crisis at Anfield this season, it’s that players are having to be tried out either in new positions or at a higher level, and this is helping the management and coaching staff to asses the ability of more players than they would normally be able to.