Manager Rafa Benitez is likely to return to the touchline for the Boxing Day visit of Bolton at Anfield. The Reds boss was absent from the sidelines in the draw at Arsenal on Sunday after a kidney operation last week.
Assistant Sammy Lee managed the side, although Rafa was in control of the team from his home via mobile phone. Lee says the manager is on the mend and will hopefully be back against Bolton.
Liverpool are top of the League at Christmas, courtesy of neighbours Everton‘s draw with Chelsea on Monday, and hope to have star players Martin Skrtel and Fernando Torres back to strengthen the side in the new year. Add to that Fabio Aurelio and Philipp Degen who both should return soon too.
Skrtel, out for 3 months with cruciate knee ligament damage, has returned to full training last week and could feature over the festive period. He said ‘œThe knee is alright but I don’t have the fitness I had before I got injured. My strength has been good but speed and acceleration has been worse after almost three months of rehabilitation. That will return with time.”
Left back Emiliano Insua was impressive against Arsenal and could keep his place in the side due to injuries to Aurelio and Andrea Dossena, he said ‘œThe boss gave me an opportunity to show what I can do and maybe I might get another chance to play at Anfield against Bolton.”
With Benitez still missing, assistant Lee told lfc.tv “His presence is always missed but the organisation that he’s put in place is such that the game plan is still there. It’s pretty much business as usual.
“It’s hurting him more being away from here than the operation. But he’ll be back and be better for it.”
Speaking of the Reds topping the table at Christmas, a huge boost to the club and fans, Lee said “We would like to stay there. We know it is going to be very difficult but every single one of these lads is working hard to make sure we maintain that position.
“If you’d said at the start of the season that we’d be top of the league at Christmas I think we’d have all been pleased with that.”
The players will be in for training on Christmas day, with Bolton the day after and Newcastle away just two days after that; “We’ve got two massive games in a short space of time and so it’s important we are ready for them and the lads know what they’ve got to do to prepare for those games. Hopefully that will all go okay and we can get maximum points from those games.”
Liverpool, top of the League at Christmas…. Hallelujah to that!