Liverpool v Wigan Athletic: Preview

11 February 2011 09:53
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will make a late decision on Steven Gerrard's availability for the visit of Wigan after the captain missed England's midweek friendly victory with a groin problem.

Centre-back Martin Skrtel is a doubt with a thigh problem which prevented him playing for Slovakia in midweek while Jonjo Shelvey has been ruled out for three months with a knee injury.

Defender Martin Kelly, who was withdrawn from the England Under-21 squad with an ankle injury, is expected to be fit but Joe Cole (knee) will probably be on the sidelines again.

Dalglish insists midfielder Raul Meireles' impressive goalscoring form of late is entirely down to the player's talent and his adaptation to English football.

The Reds boss said he was no "tactical wizard" and the Portugal midfielder's four goals in his last five matches were all a result of the 27-year-old's hard work.

Meireles had not found the target in his first 21 matches after joining from Porto in the summer for #11.5million but has suddenly burst into life in front of goal.

He has been deployed in an advanced midfield role, occasionally alongside Gerrard and sometimes on his own, and has been a revelation in the last month.

"Raul has always had the ability he has shown recently," said Dalglish.

"Maybe he's settled down a little bit and is more comfortable and confident because he is playing well but there's been nothing drastic (tactically) for any of the players really.

"It is fantastic to see Raul doing so well. He has always been a talented footballer, he's always had what we are seeing now but it's been trying to get it out and it is coming out now and he's scoring goals."

Former Reds striker Fernando Torres drew a blank on his Chelsea debut on Sunday and admitted Liverpool's formation had taken them by surprise.

Dalglish, though, played down the tactics involved.

"The system change was beneficial to us. It is about the club, about the team, and we are the most important people in our eyes," he added.

"I am not here to try to impress everyone by saying I'm a tactical wizard, I'm just here to get the best from our boys.

"It is part of our responsibility to work out how to do that and we won't do anything to confuse anyone."

Wigan defender Gary Caldwell could play with a mask to protect a fractured cheekbone.

Caldwell missed the victory over Blackburn at the weekend because of the injury but was given permission to train with the Scotland squad this week.

James McCarthy is likely to be available after he was withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland squad as manager Roberto Martinez wanted him to rest his previously injured ankle.

Source: DSG