Striker Luis Suarez is all fired up for the FA Cup as he looks to continue his red-hot streak, Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe has warned.
The top-flight’s leading scorer has missed just two minutes of competitive league action in 15 matches since a delayed start to the season through suspension.
Take into account the Uruguay international’s air miles after international involvement in World Cup qualifiers and an additional play-off — plus the fact he is so central to the Reds’ hopes this season — and there is an argument for giving him a rest when League One Oldham visit Anfield in the third round tomorrow.
Not a chance said Pascoe, who admitted neither he nor manager Brendan Rodgers would relish telling the 26-year-old he was being dropped.
“If Brendan told him that we were going to rest him I’m sure he’d kick me or Brendan because he just wants to play — that is the kind of person he is,” said the Welshman.
“You could always look at that (resting Suarez) but if you ask Luis he would say he wants to play every game.”
Suarez scored in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Hull despite battling with a foot problem, which was not helped by some over-zealous tackling from the visitors.
But Pascoe said the striker’s attitude was exemplary.
“He couldn’t put his boot on two days before the Hull game but the mentality of the man means he just wants to play every game,” he said.
“He takes whacks every game and just gets up, gets on with it, dusts himself down and what he does best — puts the ball in the net.”
Having a number of injuries to senior players means Rodgers will not have too many options when it comes to rotating his squad for the cup tie. He will be wary of a chastening experience against the same opponents last year when they were dumped out in the fourth round after a 3-2 defeat at Boundary Park.
Asked what they had learned from that game Pascoe said: “Not to lose.”
However, what is key is striking the right balance between protecting some senior players while not adversely weakening the starting XI.
Pascoe said the injury problems had not affected their thinking about transfer targets in the January window, especially as they were hoping to have most of the players back within the next two weeks.
“We are pleased Stevie (Gerrard) has come back, he is raring to go,” said the assistant boss after seeing the captain come through 30 minutes against Hull after a month sidelined with a hamstring problem.
“Daniel Sturridge (ankle) will be back within hopefully 10 days, Joe Allen 10 days to a fortnight. We’ll have three or four players to come back in the next week or 10 days.
“Nothing changes (in relation to transfers). You will get injuries but our targets are still the same.
“It is a difficult time, as everyone keeps mentioning, to bring players in but we are looking at different players.
“You have your targets but it might not be the right time or some players are coming back.”
Pascoe was, however, dismissive of reports Raheem Sterling could be loaned out.
Last month Rodgers had stated plans for the youngster had changed as he had fought his way back into the reckoning and the 19-year-old is arguably in his best form for nearly 12 months.
“We just laughed at that really. Raheem has been brilliant this season — he won’t be going anywhere.”
One man who could feature tomorrow for Oldham is Anton Rodgers, son of Brendan, bringing up an unlikely family reunion.
“It’ll be a bit of fun that Brendan and Anton Rodgers are against each other this Sunday but both will be focussed on the game,” said Pascoe.
Oldham boss Lee Johnson believes teenager Jonson Clarke-Harris could become Oldham’s FA Cup hero at Anfield tomorrow.
Back in November, when the Latics entered this year’s competition at the first-round stage, boss Lee Johnson said he envisioned Clarke-Harris, 19, writing his name into the club’s folklore in a similar manner to the way Matt Smith did last year. Smith scored twice as the League One club eliminated Rodgers’ Reds at Boundary Park. And Clarke -Harris is not overawed by the occasion.
“Anfield is a great place to go and play and I think we have to enjoy it,” said Clarke-Harris.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved