With Tuesday’s crucial Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea on Tuesday in mind, and the fact that Liverpool find themselves comfortably fourth in the Premier League, five points ahead of fifth place Everton, with the Toffees having just three games remaining to play this campaign, means Rafael Benitez may opt to rest some of his stars for this afternoon’s visit to Fulham.
Fulham themselves are fighting for survival once again this season, and in similar circumstances defeated an under-strength Liverpool team this time last year.
Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are the obvious pair to be left out, however Benitez may also opt to rest goalkeeper Pepe Reina, with Frenchman Charles Itandje standing by to fill the gap. The Spaniard has yet to miss a single minute of Premier League action for the Reds this season though.
Should Torres play and score, he will equal Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record has highest scoring foreign player in their first season in the Premier League.
Gerrard may be forced to be rested with a neck problem he has been having trouble with all week, but Jermaine Pennant could return to the side after recovering from injury.
Sami Hyypia is standing by to make his 300th Premier League appearance for Liverpool, whilst this could be Jamie Carragher’s 500th game for the club, Pennant’s 50th start and Dirk Kuyt’s 50th appearance since joining the Reds in the summer of 2006.
Javier Mascherano is also back in contention for a Premier League start after serving his three match ban for his red card and reaction against Manchester United last month.
Meanwhile Fulham welcome back keeper Antti Niemi from a shoulder injury and striker Eddie Johnson who missed last week’s 2-0 victory at Reading through illness.
Former Liverpool striker Jari Litmanen could make the bench for Roy Hodgson’s men.
Hodgson admitted yesterday that he hopes Benitez will play a weaker team with Tuesday’s European commitments in mind.
“Because of that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he rests some of the players he believes will be key to Tuesday.
“But I’m not certain that’s really to our advantage because it might be better to play his strongest team as they might then have Tuesday’s match in their mind.”
Kick-off at Craven Cottage is 3pm.