Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lucas Almost Steals Win For Reserves

Liverpool Reserves dominated the game, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Manchester United last night in the Barclays FA Premier Reserve League North.

The outstanding Jay Spearing gave Gary Ablett’s side a well-deserved lead after 34 minutes, when he finished well after Lucas Leiva had cleverly laid Sebastian Leto’s cross into his path.

Leto led the United defence a merry dance at times, and was harshly booked for diving when he was blatantly tripped in the penalty area. Spearing almost added a second just before the break, but his rasping drive was turned over the bar at full stretch by United keeper Zieler.

Spearing was denied by the keeper again after the break, while Leto wasted a good chance when he shot wildly over the bar.

United equalised with their first serious attack of the half when Lee headed in a Barnes cross with eight minutes remaining.

Goalkeeper Charles Itandje then saved well from Barnes, before Liverpool rallied again and almost regained the lead through Jack Hobbs, his header rolling across the face of goal and just eluding the in rushing Mikel San Jose Dominguez.

Deep into stoppage time Lucas almost won it for Liverpool when he rose well to meet another great Leto cross, but his header struck the inside of the post.

MANCHESTER UNITED RESERVES: Zieler, Gray, Eckersley A, Eckersley R, Chester, Lee, Cleveley (Drinkwater 72), Hewson, Dong, Fagan (Wellbeck 62), Barnes.

LIVERPOOL RESERVES: Itandje, Darby, Insua, San Jose, Hobbs, Plessis (Flynn 78), Putterill (Crowther 62), Spearing, Brouwer (Lindfield 75), Lucas, Leto.

Kewell Return Expected

Harry Kewell is expected to return to full training at Liverpool next week.

The Australia midfielder has not kicked a ball for the Anfield club this season after picking up a groin injury while playing for his country in the Asian Cup in the summer.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez told "Harry has been working really hard with the physios and next week he could be training or running with the rest of the first team."

He added: "Harry is very important for us. A player with pace and ability who can score goals is always going to be important."

This could well be the last chance Kewell gets to extend his stay at Liverpool. Several teams were interested in his services during the summer, but Benitez wanted to give the former Leeds winger every chance to prove his value to the club.

But if Kewell fails to establish himself in the squad this time, he is likely to be surplus to requirements at the end of the season.

Despite heavy spending on bringing new wide midfielders to the club in Ryan Babel and Yossi Benayoun, Benitez insists Kewell still has a role to play at Anfield.

He said: "It's clear he's someone with great quality and experience and we need these kind of players for the rest of the season."

Fernando Torres Blow Rocks Liverpool FC

Liverpool suffered a major Merseyside derby blow last night when Fernando Torres was ruled out for “eight to 10 days”.

Spain’s team doctor Genaro Borras delivered the grim news after Liverpool’s record signing hobbled away from a training session in Aarhus yesterday when he tore a muscle in his right leg.

He was immediately ruled out of his country’s Euro 2008 qualifier in Denmark tonight and will also miss Spain’s friendly in Finland on Wednesday.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will now be desperate for Torres to defy Borras’s diagnosis in the hope the damage can be repaired in time for the Goodison Park showdown in a week’s time.

Benitez already had one scare concerning his top scorer – who has hit the net seven times already in his debut season in England – when he was forced to sit out training with an ankle knock on Wednesday.

But his much-publicised worst fears about losing players to international duty appear to have been realised after Torres sustained the injury that could deny him his first Merseyside derby appearance next Saturday.

Should Torres fail to face Everton, the race will then be on for him to recover for the Champions League group game in Turkey against Besiktas a week on Wednesday, with Liverpool needing a win after only taking one point from their first two games.

Benitez’s side then faces Premier League leaders Arsenal at Anfield the following Sunday, a game which Torres, as things stand, should be fit for.

Meanwhile, Harry Kewell is expected to return to full training at Liverpool next week after the groin injury he picked up playing for Australia in the Asian Cup in the summer.

And manager Benitez is now hoping Kewell can prove his fitness and press for a place in the squad.

Benitez said: “Harry has been working really hard and next week he could be training or running with the rest of the first team. Harry is very important for us. A player with pace and ability who can score goals is always going to be important.”

Gerrard Tried To Stop Carra Quitting

England's Steven Gerrard has revealed he tried to persuade Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher to "stay involved" with the national side.

However, he has every confidence in Sol Campbell to fill the breach left by injured captain John Terry.

With Terry sidelined by a knee problem Carragher would have been a strong contender to face Estonia in Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier at Wembley had he not called time on his international career.

But the centre-back is concentrating all his energies on the Reds to leave 33-year-old Campbell earning a recall after a two-year absence for his country.

The Portsmouth player may also be required for the vital clash with Russia in Moscow on Wednesday if Terry fails to recover in time.

Gerrard, who is leading the side in Terry's absence, said: "I've got no worries about Sol. He is experienced. His form for Portsmouth has been very good.

"Against Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, he was fantastic. I am sure he will come in and do a great job for England.

"Do I wish Jamie Carragher was still involved with England? I tried my best to keep Jamie involved, not just as a friend but because I still thought he had something to offer the country for a bit longer.

"Jamie has made his decision and we have to respect that but I did try my best to keep him involved."

Gerrard has warned of the need for England's players not to pick up needless yellow cards with Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole and Joe Cole facing suspension for the Moscow game if they are booked against the Estonians.

He said: "It is not easy to shut yellow cards out of your mind at all because the game is quick. Sometimes you can pick up a yellow card for doing virtually next to nothing these days.

"If you have got a yellow card, you have got to be very careful, very professional and, if we are leading, you've got to be careful you don't pick up a silly yellow card and be out on Wednesday."

England coach McClaren has to decide whether to recall Frank Lampard or persevere with Gareth Barry who impressed against Israel and Russia when the Chelsea player was injured.

He said: "Frank and Gareth are both great midfielders. We will have to wait and see what the manager does but Gareth was fantastic in the last two games.

"I think he will be a bit hard done by if he was dropped.

"He was man of the match in both games but that's a difficult decision for the manager and he wants everyone fit and available and pushing for places."