Football

Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers, Sun 28 Feb 2010

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Defender Martin Skrtel will miss Sunday's Barclays Premier League visit of Blackburn after breaking a metatarsal in Thursday's Europa League victory over Unirea Urziceni in Bucharest.

The extent of the injury will be discovered after further examination at the club's Melwood training ground but he has already been ruled out for this weekend.

His absence causes problems for manager Rafael Benitez as fellow centre-back Sotirios Kyrgiakos serves the final game of a three-match suspension.

Jamie Carragher is likely to revert to his usual role in the centre, meaning Philipp Degen or youngster Martin Kelly could come in at right-back as, although Glen Johnson is close to full fitness after a knee problem, he is not in contention yet.

Midfielder Maxi Rodriguez returns to the squad having been ineligible for the trip to Romania.

Captain Steven Gerrard has called on the side to show "a bit of bottle" when it comes to attacking.

Despite improving what was a poor defensive record by their standards over recent weeks, critics still complain the Reds do not have enough going forward to really hurt sides.

The 3-1 victory over Europa League last 32 opponents Unirea Urziceni in Bucharest on Thursday night was the first time since the 6-1 win over Hull on September 26 they had scored more than twice in a match.

Gerrard hopes the players can draw some inspiration from that in their bid to secure Champions League football next season, starting on Sunday.

"It was slightly worrying that we were not creating enough," said the England international. "To win football matches you have got to create a lot of chances and we did that.

"That's what made last night so pleasing. Now we've got to get the balance right between now and the end of the season.

"We haven't been good enough going forward and we haven't been creating enough, so it was nice to get three goals.

"It does play on your mind. The most important thing is to defend well and keep clean sheets but it is also important that you do well going forward.

"I think we have shown over the last few games that we are back to defending well and are more solid and are working harder and results have improved.

"We've still got to be good defensively but have a bit of bottle and be a bit risky in the final third as well. You have got to keep making chances."

Blackburn are without captain Ryan Nelsen.

The New Zealand international suffered a knee injury in last week's defeat of Bolton and could be out for three to four weeks.

Christopher Samba is likely to take his place having served a suspension while Brett Emerton (Achilles) is also available again. David Dunn is pushing for a recall having had a run-out in the reserves this week.

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce claims there is nothing wrong with his side's away form - only the results.

Rovers travel to Anfield looking for only their second win away from Ewood Park in the league this season.

But after winning four in succession at home to move up to 12th and ease relegation fears, Allardyce feels it is only a matter of time before they start to profit from their travels.

Allardyce said: "It is not so much about cracking the away form as cracking the results. I think the form has been good on occasions.

"We have had some disasters like Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal away where we have been dreadful and I remember them vividly.

"But some of the performances were really well worthy of the victories we were looking for.

"Unfortunately the longer it goes on the harder it is to clinch.

"Anfield is a major venue and a big place to try to get a win but we will try our best.

"We are in good form and have got a lot of confidence in the place at the moment.

"If we are technically and tactically right, and there is perhaps a little fatigue from Liverpool, we may come away with something."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Brett Emerton
Sotirios Kyrgiakos
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Glen Johnson
Premier League
Christopher Samba
Ryan Nelsen
David Dunn
Steven Gerrard
Jamie Carragher
Martin Skrtel
Liverpool
Philipp Degen
Martin Kelly
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