Tuesday 24 October 2017

Hodgson ready to throw rookie Wilson into fray

Ian Herbert

liverpool's 18-year-old Scottish international defender Danny Wilson will be given an immediate chance to demonstrate to Roy Hodgson that he can help fill the gap created by Jamie Carragher's three-month absence, when he starts tomorrow's Europa League match against Steaua Bucharest.

Liverpool announced yesterday that they could be without Carragher's presence at the heart of central defence until mid-March, when it was confirmed he will need surgery on the shoulder injury he suffered at Spurs last Sunday.

The 32-year-old had initially hoped that a period of rest would restrict his absence to six weeks, but with Daniel Agger struggling to recover from calcification caused by a calf injury, Hodgson now has only two established centre-halves fit -- Martin Skrtel and Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

Wilson has started only one game -- the demoralising Carling Cup defeat to Northampton Town -- which is less than he hoped for when he arrived for £2m from Rangers in the summer.

Wilson, like the other summer arrival Jonjo Shelvey, were viewed by Liverpool as worth taking a gamble on, since the modest outlay on them was relatively easy to recoup by selling them if they were not up to standard.

Shelvey has shown some promise in Europe. And now Wilson, who became the youngest player to play in the Champions League for Rangers when Walter Smith selected him just over a year ago, is set to get the chance to play a part.

Hodgson will also start 20-year-old right-back Martin Kelly in Bucharest, where Liverpool -- needing only a point to progress and a victory to go through as Group K winners -- will also field Joe Cole, Ryan Babel, Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen and Shelvey.

Fernando Torres will not travel, but Daniel Pacheco may also get another chance to prove himself from the bench. Carragher's absence increases the prospect of Liverpool looking for a centre-half in January. French international Adil Rami, one of a number of Lille players Roy Hodgson has watched, is consistent in France and has a physical strength that suggests he would be cut out for the Premier League, but he will not come cheap.

Lille will want €15m (£12.5m) for the Moroccan-born player, which may be more than proprietors New England Sports Ventures are willing to pay.

In the short term, Liverpool are ready to recall Daniel Ayala from a loan spell at Hull City. Ayala moved to Hull on an initial emergency loan deal in September, but his form was such that the temporary arrangement was extended. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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