Bournemouth’s hopes of achieving an FA Cup shock on Saturday have been boosted by news of Liverpool’s deepening injury crisis.
The Championship outfit are set to welcome the Premier League giants – and seven-time Cup winners – to Dean Court for their fourth-round tie this weekend and Reds boss Brendan Rodgers will have to cope without several first-team regulars.
Rodgers confirmed on Thursday that Lucas Leiva will be out for a “few months” with a knee problem sustained in the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa last week and Glen Johnson is to be unavailable “indefinitely” due to a “number of injuries”.
Lucas and Johnson join Mamadou Sakho (hamstring), Jose Enrique (knee) and Daniel Agger (calf) on the sidelines, while striker Daniel Sturridge has only just come back from a six-week lay-off with an ankle problem.
This means Rodgers looks to have little choice but to start key players such as Sturridge, captain Steven Gerrard and top scorer Luis Suarez on Saturday – even with Tuesday’s crucial Merseyside derby against Everton looming in the distance.
First-choice goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will be rested, though, as Rodgers revealed that Brad Jones – who played in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Oldham Athletic in the third round – will start.
The Merseysiders sit fourth in the Premier League and are the second-highest scorers in the top flight with 53 goals in 22 games this term – Suarez accounting for 22 of those.
And their attacking potency will be of concern to Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, whose 16th-placed team have got the second most porous defence in the Championship, having leaked 45 goals in 26 matches.
Bournemouth overcame League Two club Burton Albion 4-1 at home in round three but that result represents one of just two wins in their last eight in all competitions at home.
Nevertheless, Howe has urged his players to relish the “rare opportunity of taking on one of the best teams in the world.”
“This is a really special game. Not just for us players but as fans and the buzz around the town,” the 36-year-old said.
“We don’t want to show Liverpool too much respect and freeze on the occasion.”