Friday, September 11, 2009

Masch doubt for weekend's game

Javier Mascherano is a major doubt for Liverpool's Premier League clash with Burnley at Anfield tomorrow.

The 25-year-old midfielder picked up a knock in Argentina's 1-0 defeat to Paraguay on Wednesday night.

Mascherano is having treatment but after playing two full 90 minutes for his country over the past week he is unlikely to be risked against the Clarets.

However, Lucas Leiva is expected to play after making the 6,000 mile trip home from South America.

Lucas was due back at Melwood today and having not featured in either of Brazil's World Cup qualifiers he is set to face Owen Coyle's side.

If Mascherano misses out, skipper Steven Gerrard is expected to drop into a central midfield role alongside Lucas.

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez admits he faces a selection dilemma at left-back ahead of Liverpool's first league meeting with Burnley for 33 years.

Emiliano Insua has got the nod ahead of Andrea Dossena in the opening four matches but Fabio Aurelio is pressing for a recall.

The Brazilian has proved his fitness following knee surgery and Benitez believes the Reds have missed the 29-year-old.

"Fabio is a player with quality," he said. "His delivery into the box, especially when we play at home, is excellent. He provides good passes and crosses which is really important.

"He has no match fitness but he is much better and he hasn't been away with his country so he has been training hard. Fabio knows exactly what we expect from him.

"Insua has been doing really well. He impressed last season when we needed him and it's the same this season.

"We have really good competition now on the left with Insua, Aurelio and Dossena.

"That means a headache for me but that's good. It’s up to me to pick the right player."

Benitez also has a decision to make further forward with Yossi Benayoun, Albert Riera and Ryan Babel all vying for the left wing role.

Riera and Babel have both hit out at their lack of first team action so far this season. Babel even admitted he wants to join Ajax on loan in January but Benitez dismissed talk of the Dutchman moving on.

"I've already talked with Riera and that's not a problem and I will talk with Ryan and analyse the situation with him," he said. "What is clear is that if they want to play then they have to compete.

"Ryan has to perform for us. He has to be ready for this game or the next one because we have a lot of games before January.

"I’m not thinking about the possibility of him going out on loan. I’m just thinking about getting the best out of him."

Benitez expects to have £18million signing Alberto Aquilani training before the end of the month.

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