Reds aim for Hammer blow despite Gerrard loss

Liverpool may be without Steven Gerrard this weekend but they could scarcely wish for better opponents than West Ham in the absence of their talismanic captain.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 19 Nov 2010, 11:46 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:33 AM

The Reds were furious midfielder Gerrard stayed on the pitch for more than an hour during England’s 2-1 mid-week friendly loss to France at Wembley.

They insisted they had an agreement with England manager Fabio Capello that Gerrard — who went off with an 84th-minute hamstring injury — would be withdrawn by the Italian on the hour mark.

“Unbelievable from all associated with England and English FA with regard to SG’s injury,” Liverpool head of fitness and conditioning Darren Burgess wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.

“Completely amateurish and now we pay for their incompetence. Absolutely disgraceful,” he added, in a message that was later deleted.

Liverpool now expect Gerrard to be out of action for between three and four weeks, but the first match he will miss is the Premier League visit of bottom-of-the-table West Ham to Anfield on Saturday.

Gerrard’s absence could give Christian Poulsen a chance to convince the Liverpool faithful of his worth, especially as Lucas is suspended after his red card in the 2-0 loss at Stoke last weekend that ended a six-game unbeaten run.

The 30-year-old Poulsen, a pre-season capture from Juventus, has not started for Liverpool since the 2-1 defeat by Blackpool on October 3.

And the Dane was jeered by Liverpool fans when he came on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Wigan earlier this month.

But Poulsen, who played under Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson at Copenhagen, insists he is onfident he can win over the Liverpool supporters by helping the club move into the top half of the table.

“I knew that I was coming to a big, big club and that competition for places in the team would be very tough,” Poulsen said.

“There has been a lot of pressure because the start to the season hasn’t been so good. But I am happy to be here.

“I don’t think the Liverpool fans have seen the true me yet. We have a new coach, new backroom staff, new players and now new owners. It has taken time for us to find ourselves as a team.

“I hope we can move further up in the table. I really want to play a big part in it.”

Hodgson also has doubts over strikers Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt.

Torres missed Spain’s 4-0 friendly defeat by Portugal with an ankle problem sustained at Stoke, while Kuyt withdrew from international duty with the Netherlands due to an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, England’s Joe Cole is likely to be missing once again with a hamstring problem and Martin Skrtel is struggling with knee and ankle injuries.

The Hammers are already five points from safety after 13 matches.

Avram Grant is also without a host of players, with Tal Ben Haim and Mark Noble doubtful and Thomas Hitzlsperger and Jack Collison out long-term.

Even though West Ham have not won at Anfield since 1963 and go into the match on the back of a winless run of seven games, Pablo Barrera believes there is no better place for the Londoners to get their campaign on track.

The Mexican midfielder, who arrived at Upton Park from Pumas in pre-season, said: “I am very excited about playing at Anfield. It will be a very difficult match but we need to start winning.

“The team is playing well despite being frustrated by results in recent matches and we have a great chance to get something from Liverpool.

“Step by step I am getting used to English football,” the 23-year-old added.

“The Premier League requires players to have a very good physical condition but that’s something I will reach by working hard.

“But I am feeling better match after match. I came here to do things well and to help the team so that’s something I’m really focused on.”

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