Liverpool Overcome Loss Of Side’s ‘Backbone’
Liverpool’s season is continuing to improve, despite the loss of the generally-accepted backbone of the side in recent weeks due to injury and absence.
Qualification for the Europa League knock-out stages and a leap into the top half of the EPL for the first meaningful time this season were both achieved without absent captain Steven Gerrard and more recent absentees, striker Fernando Torres and talismanic defender Jamie Carragher.
Gerrard should soon be back in first-team contention after his hamstring injury on England duty, while Torres was present as his wife gave birth to their second child, at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, on Monday night, while Liverpool beat Aston Villa 3-0 in the EPL.
But Jamie Carragher faces up to three months out after dislocating his shoulder in the recent unlucky 2-1 defeat at Spurs. The 32-year-old picked up the injury as he attempted to clear a corner late in the game with the score still at 1-1. In an interview with the club’s website Carragher admitted:
“It’ll probably be late February or early March before I come back. The average is about 12 weeks. I’d like to come back before that but I’ve got to make sure it’s right. I’ve been here before with a broken leg which kept me out this length of time. It’s not easy but it makes you more determined to get back.”
And Carragher had time to take a positive out of the situation, adding: “I’m sure towards the end of the season when people are maybe feeling a little bit tired, I’ll be raring to go.”
In Carragher’s absence, Liverpool reached the Europa League knockout stage, maintaining their unbeaten record in the competition with a 1-1 draw against Steaua Bucharest, which would have been a win but for a rare error by Spanish keeper Pepe Reina.
And early goals from new strike pair Ryan Babel and David Ngog made light of Torres’ paternity leave as they eased past Villa, Maxi Rodriguez adding the Reds’ third goal.
Defender Martin Kelly and striker Daniel Pacheco last week signed extended contracts keeping them at Anfield until 2014. Both players have made recent appearances in the Europa League run, with 19-year-old Pacheco playing in Bucharest.
20-year-old local boy Kelly has been at Anfield since he was seven and recently made his full EPL debut in the 2-0 home win over Chelsea.
Liverpool visit Newcastle in the EPL this Saturday evening.
Tags: Liverpool, Europa League, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, EPL, Jamie Carragher