25 Jan 2016

Confirmed Team News: Boss admits 'excellent' £12m powerhouse will miss Liverpool-Stoke because of 'muscle damage'

Liverpool take a 1-0 lead into Tuesday's League Semi-Final second-leg with Stoke City, and ahead of the game, Potters boss Mark Hughes has revealed that one of his most important players will definitely miss the game.

In his pre-match press conference today, Hughes told reporters:

"Unfortunately, the negative is that he [Shawcross] has soft muscle damage and at the moment it will be three to four weeks [out with injury]"

Due to injury, Shawcross made his first appearance of the season at the end of October, and since then, his presence has made a galvanising defensive impact on the team:

* Unbeaten in 70% of games since Shawcross's return from injury.

* Less than one goal per game conceded and 7 clean sheets in 13 league games overall (54%).

Clearly, this is a great opportunity for Liverpool to exploit a possible defensive weakness, and given the fact the game is at Anfield, the Reds surely have to be favourites.

That said, even with Shawcross in the team, Liverpool should be favourites, especially after spending hundreds of millions in the transfer market. As this season starkly illustrates, though, nothing ever goes according to plan, form, or expectations.

On the subject of Shawcross - Ex-Red Stan Collymore recently called for Klopp to sign the Stoke powerhouse. In December, he toldTalkSport:

“Ryan Shawcross, I think he’d do a job for Liverpool. He's a very good player. He’s been rumoured to go back to Manchester United at some stage, but he's local lad".

Shawcross isn't a fashionable player, but like Jamie Carragher, he's a consistent, straightforward, no-nonsense defender, who keeps it simple, and - importantly - is very rarely injured. Former ref Mark Halsey summed it up in December:

"He [Shawcross] is an excellent leader, and a tough player. You want to see aggression in your centre half, same as you do in your centre forward, but he controls that aggression, and gives 110 per cent."

Liverpool lack true warrior spirit in the ranks, and Shawcross - who is also Stoke's captain - is a tough, intimidating presence who'd instantly enhance the physicality and fighting spirit of the team.

There are other good options out there, but Klopp could do a lot worse than £12m-rated Shawcross, who's missed just 16 games through injury in the last ten years.

Author: Jaimie K


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