Liverpool Look To Bounce Back with League Cup Victory Against Northampton

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19:  Martin Kelly of Liverpool in action during the UEFA Europa League play-off first leg match beteween Liverpool and Trabzonspor at Anfield on August 19, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool will look to put the Premiership defeat at Old Trafford behind them quickly with a victory over League Two outfit Northampton at Anfield in the Carling Cup on Wednesday.

While Liverpool fought back from 0-2 down to 2-2 against Manchester United on Sunday, only to lose the game 3-2 late on, Northampton warmed up for the tie with a 3-1 defeat away to early League Two leaders Shrewsbury Town. Currently lying 17th in their division, "The Cobblers" have taken seven points from their opening seven league games.

Their prize of a third round game at Anfield has been achieved after they knocked out Championship side Reading on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the second round, following a 2-0 win at home to Brighton in the first round.

With Premier League teams featuring in European competition not entering the Carling Cup until the third round, this is Liverpool's first fixture of the season in a Cup they have won a record seven times before. Only Aston Villa, with five wins, even come close to equaling Liverpool's record in this competition.

In recent years the League Cup has been seen as a chance to blood youngsters, give fringe players a welcome 90 minute run out, or bring back players from injury, at least until the latter rounds of the tournament.

Expect more of the same from Roy Hodgson this time around, especially at home against a side 69 places below Liverpool in the English football pyramid. Liverpool could, and probably will, make a full eleven changes from the starting lineup which lost to Manchester United on Sunday.

In goal, Brad Jones should make his Liverpool debut after signing from Middlesbrough this summer.

Young local defenders Martin Kelly and Stephen Darby will both be hoping to play some part in the game, with Kelly having already impressed in the five Europa League games he has played in this season.

In the centre of defence, Sotirios Kyrgiakos could be recalled, as could Daniel Agger, while young Scottish defender Danny Wilson could be in line for his debut as well after signing from Glasgow Rangers.

Fabio Aurelio is still struggling for fitness after an Achilles problem, which may leave the left-back spot up for grabs. Darby has featured there for Liverpool this season, although he is more comfortable on the right, while young Reds Chris Mavinga and Jack Robinson will hope to enter the thoughts of the boss.

In midfield, Jay Spearing impressed against Steaua Bucharest last Thursday and should again feature in the centre. He could be joined by another debutant, Jonjo Shelvey, who signed from Charlton Athletic at the end of last season. Lucas Leiva was left out of Liverpool's squad against Man Utd and could come back into the side to provide some experience, while the likes of Steve Irwin could also get a call up to the first team squad.

Joe Cole may play his third straight game as he attempts to get some match fitness under his belt, while Dani Pacheco will hope to make his first Reds start after a string of cameo substitute appearances.

Young wide-men Paul Ince, David Amoom and Gerardo Bruna will all have some hope of being named in the squad, though Amoo has the greatest chance after already making his debut for Liverpool's first team this season against FC Rabotnicki.

David Ngog and Ryan Babel will vie for a starting berth up front and may even be paired together in a 4-4-2. Nathan Eccleston will also hope to make the bench at least after coming on for the final few minutes of the 4-1 win over Steaua.

Hodgson is likely to mix in two or three more experienced players with those making their debuts and the younger players, to provide a mixture of stability and confidence in a team which should, in all honesty, win by several goals. Northampton will no doubt try to defend sternly but may make changes of their own, and with the tie having to be decided on the night an early goal will help Liverpool immeasurably to open the game up.

Possible Reds team: Jones; Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Darby; Spearing, Lucas (c); Amoo, Pacheco, Babel; Ngog. Subs: Gulacsi, Skrtel, Konchesky, Shelvey, Ince, Eccleston, Irwin.