Baros and Morientes racing for fitness

All the recent talk of droughts for Liverpool’s strikers won’t be lost on former-Red Milan Baros. Baros was sold in the summer, after a few outbursts in the press attributed to him complaining of the rotation policy Rafa Benitez uses. Now Liverpool are to face his new club tomorrow, if Baros recovers from injury he might be looking for revenge. Baros was certainly popular, if a little frustrating at times, when he was a Reds player. If the player himself had been able to be a little more patient then perhaps he’d still be at Anfield and be making improvements to his game all the time. Rafa Benitez says he was sad to let Baros go, but that it was for the good of the club as a whole: "I think Baros will get a good reception from the Liverpool supporters. It’s a pity we had to sell him, but we know he’s a good player who can score goals. I’m not sure if he’ll be fit for the game, but when he is he will be a good player for Aston Villa, we know that. But now we are thinking about our own team and how well we can play."

Liverpool head into tomorrow’s fixture with Aston Villa with only Fernando Morientes as a doubt for the game. Morientes limped out of the Champions League win against Anderlecht on Tuesday night after scoring earlier in the game. It was a goal that Morientes had been desperate to get to try and shut the critics up. When it came it was an excellent finish and he went a little overboard in celebrating, according to Rafa: "Morientes was hurt in the celebration of his goal. It’s not a big problem, but he felt a bit of pain."

Liverpool are leaving their options open on whether to include the player in the squad, although the more time goes on the less likely he is to make it. Rafa Benitez told reporters he was planning to assess the player at Melwood today: "We will see how he is during the training session and then we will make a decision." If he does play Rafa is confident he’ll play well: "He is a player with the right mentality and who does the right things. He is a winner, he trains with a smile on his face and I’m sure he’ll score more goals."

Should Morientes miss the game then this would normally have left the door open for a return to at least the bench for Florent Sinama-Pongolle. The French youngster scored in the second-half of Liverpool Reserves’ draw with Manchester City on Wednesday, but was later sent off for dissent. Red cards in reserve fixtures count towards first-team suspensions and so Pongolle now can’t be included in the squad.

Also playing in that reserve fixture was goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek. Dudek’s future was uncertain during the summer transfer window, despite his heroics in Istanbul. Benitez did not include him in any Champions League line-ups, and so Dudek was not cup-tied for Europe. Then the Polish keeper suffered an elbow injury and so whatever Liverpool might have had planned for him, there was no way he was going anywhere. Now he’s hoping to be given a chance to impress: "If I get the chance I know I’m going to take it and do what Pepe is doing just now. He has done very well because I know myself how hard it is to come to a new country and establish yourself. He’s a very good keeper, but I want my place back."

It’s hard to think of Dudek without remembering his actions in Turkey, but Rafael Benitez is not going to let sentiment get in his way. Dudek also has to overtake Scott Carson who has been second-choice this season. Liverpool fans would love the chance to see Dudek take to the pitch at Anfield at least one more time, if only to say "thanks", but that chance may not come.