Thursday, August 30, 2012

Europa Cup Preview: Liverpool v Hearts

Lucas Leiva is the only confirmed absentee for the Europa League play-off second leg tie with Hearts.

On Wednesday Brendan Rodgers confirmed that the Brazilian midfielder could be out for up to three months with the thigh injury suffered during last weekend's draw with Manchester City.

Those Liverpool players who sat out the first encounter at Tynecastle are likely to play some part.

Though with Arsenal due to visit Anfield on Sunday afternoon the involvement of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel amongst others could be limited - be that as a starter or via an introduction from the bench.

Despite the game taking place just 24 hours before the transfer window closes those linked with moves could also be given roles. Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam are amongst those not declared in the pool available.

Though unlikely to start Hearts keeper Peter Enckleman is rated as a doubt due to a shoulder problem.

Marius Zaliukas, the Edinburgh club's skipper, could feature after responding well to treatment for a thigh injury.

Ahead of the game Brendan Rodgers gave more information on Lucas's setback, explaining that there are more consultations before a full diagnosis can be made on an unusual problem.

"It's quite a unique injury at the top of his right fem [femur]," the Anfield boss said.

"He's had his scan and he will see a specialist this evening and we'll see whether he needs an operation or whether it's just recuperation and we'll see how that evolves from there."

The midfielder sat out most of last season after suffering a knee injury in November and regained fitness ahead of schedule.

Rodgers is hoping to see a similarly strong recovery adding: "He's a quick healer so I'd hope that he would be back sooner than that.

"We won't be rushing him. He's worked terrifically well and it's unfortunate that he's got over his knee problems and he looked strong and somewhere up to near fitness and now he's had this injury.

"I had a good long chat with him. He went for his scan and then he got the news last night. He's obviously disappointed because he's worked so hard but this will be an opportunity and a chance for him to work on other areas.

"One [is] to make sure that the strength in his knee continues to improve. He can still do some work off the field as well and it gives him a chance to focus. We are hoping that the [three months] will be a maximum.

"At this moment he's disappointed but he's a very courageous guy and he's focused. So his aim now is to get back as quick as he possibly can."

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