Predicted Liverpool lineup vs Burnley: Sturridge and Sakho to return

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Liverpool play the second of three matches in a week at Anfield on Wednesday night as the Reds look to continue their push for Champions League qualification. Ben Twelves discusses the team selection options ahead of the clash.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - Boxing Day, Friday, December 26, 2014: Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the first goal against Burnley during the Premier League match at Turf Moor. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day (Photo: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda).

Having responded superbly to Europa League disappointment with Sunday’s fantastic win over Man City, Brendan Rodgers’ in-form Reds go in search of extending their unbeaten Premier League run once more against Sean Dyche’s side.

The confidence boosting victory over the Champions – moving Liverpool to just two points from fourth place – will have provided Rodgers’ young side with huge belief ahead of the final 10 league matches, but it is now essential that the Reds keep their focus and avoid slip-ups having worked tremendously hard to drag themselves into the race for top four.

Rodgers’ men scraped past Burnley with a narrow 1-0 win on Boxing Day but despite the Lancashire outfit’s lowly position, Dyche’s team have already taken points from Chelsea, Man City, Southampton, and Man United this campaign, meaning Liverpool will certainly have to produce another strong performance to grab maximum points.

A previously hectic fixture schedule is slowly beginning to die down with just the FA Cup and Premier League left to play for, but with Wednesday’s game being the third in a week and an important quarter-final tie to come on Sunday, Rodgers will have to juggle his team once again to ensure for a fresh performance against the Premier League newcomers.

 

The Team

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 25, 2015: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Jordon Ibe during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 2nd Leg match against Besiktas JK. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers still has a somewhat depleted squad at his disposal – with Jordon Ibe the latest to be ruled out of action after picking up a knee injury in Turkey – and though the game is set to come too early for Steven Gerrard to return, the Reds boss could welcome back both Mamadou Sakho and Glen Johnson after injury and illness respectively.

The squad has a familiar look with the same select group unavailable for selection, meaning the Liverpool boss will have to establish who could do with a rest – the same way Philippe Coutinho was afforded one and came back firing on all cylinders on Sunday afternoon.

Emre Can is one of those who could do with a night off having now made 18 consecutive appearances, and Sakho’s availability as well as Kolo Toure’s means the German could be replaced in the back three by either of the returned duo.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 22, 2014: Liverpool's Emre Can in action against Real Madrid CF during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While changes can readily be made in the defensive line, there’s little option available to rotate the midfield from Sunday’s look, and the excellent Jordan Henderson is therefore in line to lead the Reds once again at Anfield alongside Joe Allen, who is beginning to recapture his best form.

Daniel Sturridge started on the bench for the visit of the Champions and having been used sparingly last time out, the natural striker could re-enter the starting XI in place of make-shift front man Raheem Sterling, who has played every minute of the last three demanding fixtures against Southampton, Besiktas and Manuel Pelligrini’s side.

 

The Line Up

Little room for manoeuvre with options scarce is likely to see the Reds XI retain a familiar look from over the last few games, but Rodgers does have a small number of potential alterations available to freshen up his side.

The Liverpool manager could choose to make two small changes – in an attempt to keep key players fresh for fixtures ahead – and the first option could see Sakho reinstated to the position he made his own in the back three in place of the improving but still suspect Lovren, with Sturridge entering for Sterling up front, allowing the 20-year-old a rest.

Those switches would see the Reds line up like this come 8pm kick-off time Wednesday night:

Burnley XI 1

However, Rodgers could keep the same combination with Sakho and Sturridge coming in again, though he could opt to reintroduce them to the starting team in place of Emre Can – to afford the German a well-deserved rest – and Adam Lallana, who produced a huge effort on Sunday, allowing the Liverpool to unleash an explosive front three.

With those alterations, Liverpool’s starting XI could look like this at Anfield:

Burnley XI 2

Having worked tirelessly and produced a huge effort to drag themselves back into the race for Champions League qualification, it is essential the Reds stay focussed on the job in hand and produce a professional performance on Wednesday night in order to grab another vital three points.

 

Select your XI:

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