Fri, Jan 28, 2005 - Page 22 News List

Liverpool suffers injuries prior to League Cup final

LIVERPOOL , ENGLAND

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, second left, scores a goal against Watford during their League Cup semifinal second leg at Vicarage Road in Watford on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AP

Liverpool's League Cup semifinal win over Watford has come at a heavy price with striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle picking up a serious knee injury in Tuesday's game.

The French player could be out for the rest of the season after his knee gave way as he turned sharply just minutes after coming on as a substitute towards the end of Liverpool's 1-0 win at Watford.

A scan on Wednesday revealed the 20-year-old had torn his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which can take up to six months to mend.

A statement on the club Web site, www.liverpoolfc.tv, reported: "He will see a surgeon on Thursday [yesterday] morning, after which the Reds will have a better idea how long he will be out of football for."

Injury Blow

The loss of Sinama-Pongolle is yet another injury blow for coach Rafael Benitez, who is already without the likes of Djibril Cisse, Xabi Alonso, Harry Kewell and Sami Hyypia.

Liverpool's 2-0 aggregate win over their Championship rivals has earned them a trip to Cardiff's Millenium stadium for the League Cup final where they will meet Chelsea.

That came as a welcome boost after defeats to Southampton in the Premiership and a sorry performance when losing to Burnley in the FA Cup.

But despite trailing Merseyside neighbors Everton by seven points in the race to secure fourth spot and secure European football next season Benitez is upbeat.

"We have a very good squad with more confidence now," the Spaniard reflected.

"We know that if we play compact as a team, it is very difficult to beat us.

"The board have made a great effort to sign [Fernando] Mor-ientes, we now have him, Gerrard, Didi Hamann, Milan Baros -- a lot of good, quality players.

"But we need a little more luck with the injuries," he said.

Springboard

Liverpool defender Jamie Car-ragher believes the League Cup performances can act as a springboard going into the crucial final few months of the campaign.

"This result has now given everyone something to look forward to in February," the defender said in the Liverpool Echo.

"Not only have we got a major final, we've got the Champions League kicking off again around the same time.

"Sometimes, I don't know what people expect.

"The manager's only just arrived. I know we've been inconsistent in the league and I know the manager would like us to have more points. But he should be judged much later, not because of one bad week."

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