Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Champions League: Toulouse vs LiverpooL

Peter Crouch and Andriy Voronin are both recalled to the Liverpool side to start up front for the Reds in Toulouse this afternoon.

Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt both begin on the bench as Rafael Benitez rings the changes from the side which won at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel both make their first competitive starts for the club while Sami Hyypia is back in the centre of defence alongside Jamie Carragher.

The final Liverpool line-up follows:

Reina (GK), Finnan (RB), Carragher (CB), Hyypia (CB), Arbeloa (LB), Benayoun (RW), Gerrard (AM), Mascherano (DM), Babel (LW), Voronin (ST), Crouch (F).

Itandje, Agger, Riise, Torres, Alonso, Kuyt, Sissoko

Carragher Reaffirm His Decision

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has refused to reverse his decision to retire from international football, despite a face-to-face meeting with England coach Steve McClaren.

McClaren had hoped to tempt Carragher to return to the fold for the upcoming friendly with Germany and Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia, but has been rebuffed by the Reds stopper.

He told Sky Sports News: "I met Jamie on Monday and had a very good conversation, but unfortunately he's stayed with the decision to not be involved with us.

"We respect that, Jamie has been a fantastic servant for England. I won't close the door, who knows in the future."

McClaren also admitted that Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will be a major loss, as he is sidelined by a foot injury for the next couple of months.

"Obviously it's a blow because he was looking so fit and well in pre-season," McClaren said. "He's a very important player for England.

"I was disappointed on Sunday when I got the call, but on Monday we had to move on. We've dealt without him before and we'll have to do so again.

"We've still got Peter Crouch and the likes of Darren Bent, Andy Johnson, Jermain Defoe and David Nugent."

Essien To Miss Liverpool Showdown

Jose Mourinho has lost Michael Essien from his Chelsea midfield again because of a knee injury which will sideline him for up to 10 days.

The Ghana international will miss Wednesday's trip to Reading and Sunday's game at Liverpool after damaging ligaments in the win against Birmingham.

He scored final goal of the 3-2 win against Steve Bruce's side two days ago and looked a real force after being restored to the Chelsea midfield.

Essien was one of Mourinho's key players last term but spent much of it filling in at the back and the pace and power he offers further forward was missed.

He has not had the best fortune with injuries, damaging knee ligaments last season and others in his ankle this summer but this is a consequence of his all action style.

Mourinho at least has plenty of cover, with Steve Sidwell pushing for a place against his former club Reading tomorrow and Claude Makelele and John Obi Mikel also in contention.

For Petr Cech it will be a difficult trip, returning to the Madejski Stadium for the first time since he fractured his skull there under the challenge of Stephen Hunt last October and required brain surgery.

But the goalkeeper insists he can handle it, saying: "I knew as soon as I re-started playing that one day I would have to go back to Reading.

"I got injured there and I have to go back and play the game again but I have no problem with that. That is the past and I am looking to the future.

"I don't remember anything from the game or the day there so maybe I will enjoy the whole game there for the first time."

Freak incidents that day left Cech and later his replacement, Carlo Cudicini, requiring hospital treatment and Chelsea later raised issues about how emergencies are handled at games.

A working party including their club doctor Bryan English was subsequently established and new measures have now been introduced.

Key among them is the requirement that an ambulance specifically for players and officials must be at all stadiums on matchdays this season.

Benitez To Continue Rotating

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez insists he will continue to rotate his squad this season.

The Anfield boss has received criticism from some quarters for his policy of shuffling his Liverpool squad, but Benitez is undeterred.

The Reds face Toulouse in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday and Peter Crouch, Yossi Benayoun and Javier Mascherano are expected to play.

The trio were left out of the squad which travelled to Aston Villa on Saturday for Liverpool's Premier League opener, but they are likely to feature in France as Benitez continues to ring the changes.

Crouch, especially, has been rumoured to be unhappy at his limited first-team opportunities, but Benitez has reiterated that no player is guaranteed a regular place in his starting XI.

"In modern football you have to change players," Benitez told the Daily Star. "It's not easy to keep the same team.

"I know a lot of people would like to see the same XI every week but it's impossible.

"If players are performing well and we are winning games in a row then we will try to keep them in the team.

"But how many teams in the Premier League can keep the same XI every week? You look at it and it is usually the teams that are outside the top eight.

"Why? Because they only play one game a week normally.

"We hope to play 60 games a season and you can't play the same people every week.

"A tired team is often a losing team."