February 29, 2024

Liverpool could welcome back four injured players vs Nottingham Forest | Football | Sport

A weakened Liverpool side minus 14 injured and ill players reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup last night thanks to the club’s young talents. Southampton were beaten 3-0 as the Carabao Cup winners extended their unbeaten run at Anfield to 29 games across all competitions, with two 18-year-olds – Lewis Koumas and Jayden Danns – scoring the goals.

And with the feel-good factor engulfing Liverpool they will bounce into their next Premier League match this weekend. They travel to Nottingham Forest at 3pm on Saturday. The City Ground is a venue where they suffered a meek 1-0 defeat last season to a team who were bottom of the table at the time.

The Reds beat the same relegation-threatened opponents 3-0 at Anfield in October and will be hopeful of another three points this time around. Victory would move them four points ahead of champions Manchester City who face Manchester United in their derby at the Etihad on Sunday.

Liverpool’s chances of an important victory on the road could be helped by the returns of as many as four players who all missed the FA Cup win. Wataru Endo was absent as the result of a “proper knock” sustained in the Carabao Cup final. The Japanese destroyer was brilliant against Chelsea and fortunately the Merseyside outfit are confident he will be fit for Forest.

Liverpool named both James McConnell and Bobby Clark in midfield against Southampton while Joe Gomez took up an unusual role as the No. 6. That was with Endo, Ryan Gravenberch, Curtis Jones, Dominik Szoboszlai, Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic all sidelined.

Alexis Mac Allister was spared a start but played half an hour off the bench. He should be partnered by Endo and the indefatigable Elliott in Nottingham. And Jurgen Klopp will hope to utilise Dominik Szoboszlai off the bench. The Hungarian has not been available since the rout of Chelsea in the league last month. In that 4-1 win, he aggravated a hamstring injury that had kept him out for a few weeks earlier in January.

Szoboszlai’s return would be huge at a time when Gravenberch and Jones will miss at least the next two matches, while Thiago and Bajcetic are out for the foreseeable future. In attack, Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz are fit and should both start at Forest especially after the Colombian was rested against Southampton. But the Reds have had to make do without Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah for their last three matches.

Welcoming the fleet-footed forward pair back to the bench this Saturday would also be quite the fillip. Klopp had to resort to inexperienced youth at Wembley with Danns making his second ever appearance just days after an Anfield debut against Luton. McConnell and Clark had also only played a combined 143 first-team minutes before coming on against Chelsea.

Against Southampton, Koumas was handed a rare start with Elliott on the opposite flank and Gakpo through the middle. Danns got 27 minutes off the bench while Kaide Gordon also enjoyed a late cameo. Liverpool scored three goals without them but Klopp would love to have the quality of Salah and Nunez to call upon at the City Ground, if even for 10 to 15 minutes at the end.

Liverpool know they need to win given the intensity of the title race, with City expected to beat United and Arsenal heavily fancied to hammer struggling Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Having Endo back in the starting line-up and one or two, if not all three, of Szoboszlai, Salah and Nunez back on the bench would be a massive help.


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