In a week when Liverpool’s integrity was called into question following their very public intentions to appeal the 8 game ban handed out to Luiz Suarez for racial abuse, Anfield boss Kenny Dalglish has stated his intentions to field a strong team in the third round FA cup clash with Oldham.
Speaking ahead of the game, Dalglish, who has guided his side to the semi final of the Carling Cup said “The FA Cup has been undermined in many ways and in many quarters, for varying reasons, but we certainly won’t ever undermine it.
“It’s a competition that’s there to be won so we’ll go into the Oldham game with the same attitude and desire as we went into the Carling Cup.
“The Carling Cup is something people have done the same with – undermined and undervalued – but we went about our job as well as we possibly could and we’ve got our reward for that”
With only Jack Robinson and Lucas injured, and the aforementioned Suarez suspended following the decison of the club to withdraw their appeal, Liverpool have virtually a full squad to choose from however it is likely that a number of fringe players will get their chance to impress on Friday night, the Scot alluding to this when he said “We’ve always said how strong the squad is and maybe it’s an opportunity for us to give the people in that squad the gratitude they deserve by giving them an opportunity to start the game,”
“But that’s not to say we’re undermining or being disrespectful in any way. We’ll treat Oldham with complete respect.
A new look backline looks set to feature rising star Martin Kelly, veteran defender Jaime Carragher, young Uruguayan Sebastian Coates and the fit again Fabio Aurelio with Brazilian keeper Doni likely to also get a run out.
The midfield will have a more settled feel to it with Jay Spearing and Jordan Henderson likely to feature while Craig Bellamy should partner Andy Carroll upfront in the absence of suitable alternatives. Oldham represents a good opportunity for the under pressure Carroll to get on the score sheet. Its now 10 games without a goal for the Newcastle man and while the burgeoning relationship with Steven Gerrard is unlikely to get a chance to further blossom until at the least a 15-20 cameo in the second half, Carroll will be hoping that with Bellamy and possibly Maxi and Downing involved that chances will come his way.
Oldham meanwhile earned their shoot at Liverpool after being Southend 1-0 in Round 2 and after seeing Northampton win at Anfield last season, Paul Dickov will be hoping his side can claim a major scalp.
The former Manchester City striker has a full squad to choose from and will no doubt be pleased to have key midfielder James Wesolowski back following injury a well as on-loan trio Luca Scapuzzi, Tom Adeyemi and Nathan Clarke who should be cleared to play.
Former Blackburn and Newcastle Shefki Kuqi will be a familiar face to the Anfield faithful and he should lead the Oldham line.
An emotional evening is expected at Anfield as the club plays its first home game since the sad passing of former defender Gary Ablett and Dalglish will be hoping that his players give Ablett a suitable send off.
Key stat: Should Liverpool advance it would be only the third time in six seasons that they have made it to the fourth round.