Liverpool Club Focus – Lucas injury overshadows Carling Cup progression

In-form Liverpool reached their first League Cup semi-final since 2005 after Kenny Dalglish’s side cruised to an impressive 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. The Merseysiders will now face Premier League leaders Manchester City over two legs in the last-four of the competition and the winner of that tie will set up a Wembley final against either Crystal Palace or Cardiff City.

Argentine winger Maxi Rodriguez’s second goal at Stamford Bridge in just nine days will have given Dalglish a lot to think about, as the Reds prepare to face some tricky opponents in the league in the run up to Christmas. Maxi, who has now scored 10 goals in his last nine starts for Liverpool, was made to settle for a place on the bench when the Anfield outfit claimed a draw against City last weekend. But given his terrific form for the Merseysiders since Dalglish took over in January, it would not be surprising to see him replace Stewart Downing in the starting line-up when Liverpool face Fulham on Monday. After all, the former Atletico Madrid star did score a hat-trick on his last visit to Craven Cottage.

But both Liverpool’s excellent run in the Carling Cup and Maxi’s brilliant form have been overshadowed by the serious injury sustained by Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. The club confirmed that Lucas had suffered an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and would therefore require surgery. As a consequence, the tough-tackling defensive midfielder who has been a key player for the Reds so far this term, will be unavailable for the remainder of the season.

According to the Mirror, current skipper Jamie Carragher said: “For the last 18 months, in my opinion, [Lucas] has been our best player. Luis Suarez has come in and done great things for the club, but Lucas has been his equal in many ways. He has been as good as anyone in the team this season and there is no question that he will be a big miss.

Carragher added: “High standards are expected when you play for one of the big clubs and there are plenty of examples of players who have gone missing after realising the demands on them. But you can tell he is a top player as he never let that bother him. He has just got on with it and plays in nearly every game. If he has a little knock, he will always try and carry on, doing his best for us. There are lots of different characters, but you can’t fault Lucas.

Liverpool reacted to the news by recalling attack-minded youngster Jonjo Shelvey from his loan spell at Blackpool. However, it seems more likely that either Jay Spearing or Jordan Henderson will now try to deputise for Lucas.

Energetic holding player Spearing, who was extremely impressive for the Reds in the latter stages of last season, would appear to be the most natural replacement for the Brazilian. But versatile summer signing Henderson could also slot in to protect the back four. Dalglish now has a few days to consider how he will cope without one of his star players.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Fulham v Liverpool

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