Thursday 19 September 2019

Deja vu for Lonergan as bizarre injuries open door

Andy Lonergan. Photo: PA
Andy Lonergan. Photo: PA

Chris Bascombe

Andy Lonergan may appreciate the symmetry as an unexpected twist in the twilight of his career mirrors the moment he made his professional breakthrough.

As Liverpool's goalkeepers find increasingly bizarre ways of getting injured, there is a sense of deja vu for the 35-year-old back-up.

Lonergan made his competitive debut for Preston North End in the midst of a goalkeeper crisis 19 years ago, summoned from the youth team by then manager David Moyes for a League Cup tie at Coventry City.

With three senior goalkeepers unavailable, 16-year-old Lonergan took the gloves as Preston were beaten 4-1.

Despite the tough start, Lonergan sufficiently impressed to feature in that year's promotion bid, rewarded with his hometown club's young player of the year prize in his debut season.

A former England youth international - who was also called up to Ireland U-16s at one stage by Brian Kerr - he spent 11 years at his boyhood club, with several loan spells as he recovered from injury.

One of the highlights came in 2004 when he scored direct from his own penalty box in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City.

Lonergan played against his current club in an FA Cup tie in 2009, Liverpool 2-0 winners with goals from Fernando Torres and Albert Riera.

Despite being regularly scouted by Premier League clubs - he briefly trained with Everton when Moyes was manager there and was the subject of several failed bids by West Bromwich Albion - Lonergan has never played a top-flight game.

After being sold by Preston in 2011 for financial reasons, he has appeared for Leeds United, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham and Wolves.

With Adrian declaring himself ready, Lonergan may yet be denied his bow.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have registered their concern to Uefa about the level of security at the Super Cup final after goalkeeper Adrian was injured by a pitch invader.

Adrian is fighting to be fit for his side's Premier League fixture at Southampton today after suffering a swollen ankle in the celebrations that followed the penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in Istanbul, deepening the goalkeeper crisis at the club.

Alisson is absent with a torn calf, meaning Lonergan is on standby.

Although Adrian says he is optimistic of being fit, his manager Jurgen Klopp described the "crazy" situation in the immediate aftermath of the goalkeeper saving Tammy Abraham's penalty, when a lone supporter joined players and staff to swamp the Spaniard.

"It (winning the Super Cup)would help Adrian a lot if it would be 100 per cent clear he could play" said Klopp.

"When we were all together, a supporter jumped on us, he was chased by some security guys, slipped and kicked his ankle.

"Crazy. Yesterday, it was swollen. Today, I spoke to him. It is better, so we have to see."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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