Pepe Reina is a doubt for Liverpool’s Premier League clash against newly-promoted Reading at Anfield on Saturday after the goalkeeper suffered a hamstring injury on international duty with Spain. Despite an indifferent start to the campaign, the 30-year-old stopper is a key player for the Reds and his possible absence is one manager Brendan Rodgers could do without given the number of Liverpool players who are currently out of action.
Earlier this week it was announced that Italian striker Fabio Borini will be out for approximately three months as he recovers from a broken foot, leaving the Merseysiders with just one fit senior striker in Luis Suarez. Other stars on the injury table include Spanish left-back Jose Enrique, defender Martin Kelly and influential holding midfielder Lucas Leiva.
In light of some of these injuries, Rodgers has been forced to turn to the younger members of his squad, including the likes of Andre Wisdom, Suso and Raheem Sterling. The Reds’ boss is likely to explore his options even further in the attacking department over the coming weeks, with forwards Samed Yesil and Adam Morgan possible backups for Uruguayan star Suarez while Borini recovers.
Should Reina be unavailable for the upcoming game against Reading, then Brad Jones will stand between the sticks in his place. The Australian has made appearances in the Europa League and Capital One Cup this season, but has yet to start a single league game for Liverpool since joining the club while Roy Hodgson was in charge. Rodgers will be hoping that Jones’ Premier League debut passes without controversy and that Reina recovers quickly ahead of a crucial run of games.
Regardless of the Reds’ injury woes, the visit of Reading should be one that Rodgers’ side will be looking to gain maximum points from following a poor start to the season. Liverpool have won just one of their opening seven top-flight fixtures and while the Anfield crowd have warmed to their new manager and his style of football, anything less than three points against Brian McDermott’s team could set the alarm bells ringing ahead of a tricky Merseyside derby.
Liverpool’s record on home soil has been miserable of late, with just six wins at Anfield since the start of the 2011-2012 season. None of those victories have been achieved this term. Should Rodgers’ side wish to challenge for a top-four place come the end of the campaign then their home form must improve dramatically. A win against Reading could set the ball rolling.
The major talking point ahead of the game is about the Reds’ lack of attacking options. There will be intense pressure on Suarez to score goals over the next few months and it will be interesting to see how Rodgers reacts to Borini’s injury. It remains to be seen whether he turns primarily to Yesil and Morgan or instead decides to allow someone like captain Steven Gerrard to advance into a more attacking role.
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