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FA Cup tie looms over Reds' trip to Blackburn
Published : 10 Apr 2012 12:17:12Rss feed
Kenny Dalglish faces a selection dilemma ahead of Liverpool's Premier League match away to relegation-threatened Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday.
The Reds have managed just two victories in the league since the turn of the year (they were held to 1-1 draw with Aston Villa last weekend) and they face Merseyside rivals Everton in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday.
Liverpool are currently on their worst league run since they were relegated from the top flight 58 years ago but Anfield great Dalglish, who has already guided the club to the League Cup this season, will want to keep some of his key men fresh for the cup tie.
The likes of Steven Gerrard could be given a break, while Brazilian Alexander Doni will continue to cover for the suspended Pepe Reina in goal.
Liverpool have managed just 11 victories in their 32 league matches so far this season, losing nine of their 17 away games.
Dalglish accepts his team's responsibility for their league position but feels Liverpool have been on the wrong end of a great deal of poor luck and refereeing decisions in recent months.
The draw with Villa was a good example, with the Reds having two penalty appeals turned down and wasting a host of chances.
England winger Stewart Downing said it was crucial Liverpool prepared for the Everton game with victory at Ewood Park.
"It has to be a case of picking up where we left off (against Villa)," he explained. "We have to keep drumming the same message into ourselves -- keep being positive, keep creating chances and it will fall for us in the end.
"Obviously you can't keep going on a run like this where we keep missing chances. It will turn and hopefully at Blackburn we will get three points.
"It would be nice to get a win before the semi-final.
"Form goes out of the window for a semi-final, but I still think you need to go into it with a bit of form and players who are playing with good confidence.
"We've got a big game (at Blackburn) to prepare for it and it's a big week for the club."
Dalglish has been buoyed by the return of Danish defender Daniel Agger from a rib problem.
The centre-back made a 20-minute substitute appearance against Villa and could feature for longer at Ewood Park.
Blackburn have slipped back into trouble after a 3-0 loss at West Brom -- their third straight defeat.
Steve Kean's side had moved away from the relegation zone after back-to-back wins over Wolves and Sunderland but have fallen away with reverses against Bolton, Manchester United and the Baggies.
Kean knows his team are running out of opportunities to collect the points needed to secure their Premier League status.
After the meeting with the Reds, Blackburn's remaining games are against Swansea, Norwich, Tottenham and Wigan before they finish the season with a trip to Chelsea.
At least Kean has a full-strength side to select from, although on-loan striker Anthony Modeste will be absent though suspension following his red card in the defeat at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
"Other results worked for us over the weekend," said Kean, whose team beat Liverpool 3-1 at Ewood Park last season.
"I've always said there will be lots of twists and turns in the battle to stay up."
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