Liverpool Club Focus – Dalglish to ring the changes for FA Cup tie

This time last season, Kenny Dalglish took charge of his first Liverpool game since returning to the club, but even his presence could not stop Liverpool from crashing out of the FA Cup as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Manchester United. The well-respected Scot will be hoping to avoid a repeat of that disappointment when his side face Oldham Athletic at Anfield on Friday night.

Liverpool have already progressed to the semi-final stage of the other domestic cup competition – the Carling Cup – this season, and with the first of that two-legged clash against Premier League table-toppers Manchester City to come later this month, Dalglish is likely to rest some of his key players for the test against Paul Dickov’s lower league outfit.

Speaking about his selection plans, the Liverpool boss 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.

Friday night could perhaps be the opportunity for some under-performing players to prove their worth to the fans. Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll both arrived at Anfield in big-money moves, but neither has consistently produced the goods that they were brought in for. Former Newcastle striker Carroll has been criticised by neutrals almost non-stop since he made the move to Merseyside last January for £35m. While the talented youngster has played reasonably well in a few of his games, some fans are beginning to show concern at his lack of goals.

The idea behind the signing of England international Downing was for him to provide Carroll with some much-needed service. So far, Downing has failed to score a goal or even claim an assist in a Liverpool shirt. It will be interesting to see how much more of a chance he is given by Dalglish before he loses his place permanently to Maxi Rodriguez, who has been much more of a threat in front of goal.

Dalglish may provide both Downing and birthday boy Carroll another chance to conjure up a goal or two against Oldham. Given their poor recent form, both players could be suffering from a lack of confidence. Should they start the game on Friday and combine to find the net, then that could work wonders for them and boost morale ahead of the Carling Cup clash at the Etihad Stadium next week.

Meanwhile, Dalglish may also give experienced defender Jamie Carragher the chance to start a game for the first time since the end of November. The Liverpool legend could line up alongside Uruguayan centre-back Sebastian Coates at the heart of the Reds’ defence. Dalglish also hinted that Brazilian full-back Fabio Aurelio could be part of the first-eleven. All those who are selected will be hoping to impress, ahead of the exciting Carling Cup tie next Wednesday.

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