x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bereaved Bellamy likely to play in Carling Cup

Liverpool striker set to set aside his grief for Gary Speed to play against Chelsea tonight in the Carling Cup

Craig Bellamy, the Liverpool striker, in Premier League action against Chelsea last week, could play in Tuesday night’s Carling Cup game against them days after Gary Speed, his Wales manager, passed away.
Craig Bellamy, the Liverpool striker, in Premier League action against Chelsea last week, could play in Tuesday night’s Carling Cup game against them days after Gary Speed, his Wales manager, passed away.

What might normally be a relatively meaningless Carling Cup match for Chelsea could be especially important when they take on Liverpool on Tuesday night.

With Chelsea 10 points off the lead in the Premier League and facing possible elimination from the Champions League, the team's best chance of success could be the Carling Cup.

Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League but a rerun in the Carling Cup quarter-finals could go either way. Having played Manchester City on Sunday, Liverpool are likely to rest several players.

Liverpool may recall Craig Bellamy after the Wales striker was omitted Sunday because he was so upset at the death of the national team manager, Gary Speed.

"Gary was like a mentor to Bellars [Bellamy]," Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, said. "Bellars was a bit upset and I took the decision to say, 'Look, there are more important things than playing a football match'."

Jamie Carragher may return for his first appearance since October 26 after spending the last two matches on the bench since recovering from injury.

With Martin Kelly, Andy Carroll, Maxi Rodriguez and Jay Spearing also in contention for a recall, Dalglish could opt to rest the likes of Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson, Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez.

Chelsea have had an extra day's rest since beating lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 on Saturday. That was just the club's second win from five Premier League matches and came after a 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen left them needing either victory or a scoreless draw against Valencia to progress in the Champions League.

Manchester City are at Arsenal in another of the quarter-final matches on Tuesday night, while Blackburn Rovers are at Cardiff City and Manchester United hosts Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

City, the Premier League leaders, ended a 35-year streak without a trophy when they won last season's FA Cup, but they have not won in three meetings with Arsenal, who lost last season's final to Birmingham City. As many as three former Arsenal players could line up for City at Emirates Stadium, with Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy likely to make their first appearances against their former club and Kolo Toure also in contention to play.

"You want to respect our players who have played for us," Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, said.

"That's what we expect. It's always more important to support our players rather than be negative against the players of Man City. What is important is that we are united to win the game."

United host Palace having not lost to them since 1991. With such a strong record and a disparity in form – United are second in the Premier League while Palace are 10th in the second tier - Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, could give a debut to Paul Pogba, the French midfielder. "There will be complete change," Ferguson said. "I think the League Cup has turned into quite a good tournament.

"Clubs like United are able to introduce young players and ones who have not been playing regularly in the first team and it's been good to us over the years.

"We've won two finals at Wembley with young players, which is good going, and I think it's become an important tournament for us in terms of getting the youngsters an introduction into winning."