How Will They Line Up: Liverpool vs Everton
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he is prepared to go through January without making a signing rather than make a short-term panic buy.
Rodgers goes into Tuesday night’s Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield desperately short of players after seeing his squad hit by a number of injuries. Defenders Glen Johnson (ankle), Daniel Agger (calf), Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) and Jose Enrique (knee) are all out of action, as is Lucas Leiva with medial knee ligament damage, while fellow midfielder Joe Allen faces a late fitness test on a tight hamstring.
The manager has admitted that he has looked into the possibility of getting in a big name on loan to bolster the squad in the short term as they chase Champions League football.
Liverpool are also one of a number of clubs to be linked with a permanent move for Blackpool midfielder Tom Ince, who began his career at Anfield. Rodgers, though, insists there are no deals pending, and will not bring in a player for the sake of it.
He said: “We have to wait and see on that. There’s certainly nothing imminent. We always felt if we could do it [sign a player in January], that it was certainly something we wanted to do.
“I’ve said all along that we needed that wee bit of luck to keep clear of injuries, and unfortunately we’ve been hit with a bad run of injuries. I’m reluctant to do anything that involves just stockpiling players.
“We need to bring in players who are really going to affect our starting XI. If we can’t do that, we won’t be doing anything.
“The club are working hard to find players. It’s just a very difficult market to find the player, do a deal and get it over the line. But we won’t stop until the very end, and we hope we can do something.”
Liverpool go into the derby lying fourth in the Premier League, and in a position to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2009. But they only lead fifth-placed Tottenham on goal difference, and Rodgers is aware of the temptation to gamble on buying a player who could lead his side to the riches of Europe’s top club competition.
Asked about the possibility of taking that kind of gamble, Rodgers said: “Unless it was an outstanding player you could get in on a loan from another club who is going to really help and improve you, I wouldn’t do that.
“We’ve got enough of that type around the team and the group in terms of support players. If I want to do that, I’d rather give a young player an opportunity. That’s why you have youth academies, to bring young players through.
“OK, it might not be the ideal timing for them, but it’s just what’s going to be available. If there’s nothing available, there’s not a great deal we can do about it.”
Rodgers will take a late check before deciding whether to play Wales midfielder Allen, who has been troubled by a series of injury problems over the last 12 months, and who missed last Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup fourth-round win at Bournemouth with a tight hamstring.
The manager said: “We just need to see with Joe. We’ve still got a wee bit of time to decide that. He was on the training field today. It’s just a case of assessing Joe on whether this game is going to push him too much, and whether he’s fully fit. What we don’t want is another injury, with the squad as it is.
“We don’t only have to think about tomorrow night, but for the coming weeks, because we’ve got some very important games.”