Martinez and Dalglish agree – there's more to Liverpool than Suarez

THE FESTIVE fixture list continues for Liverpool tomorrow night at the DW Stadium when Kenny Dalglish’s side take on Roberto Martinez’s Wigan Athletic. Kenny has almost a full-strength squad at his disposal but there won’t be a return – for now at least – for Steven Gerrard.

Asked about injuries, Kenny said: “We don’t have any problems, apart from Jack Robinson and Steven who are longer term, and Fabio – the longer terms ones aren’t in the squad.” There was obviously no need to mention Lucas, who’s out for the rest of the season.

The manager was also asked if Gerrard might be back at some point over Christmas: “It remains to be seen, but we won’t be making any comments on it.”

There was a time when Steven Gerrard was spoken about as the player Liverpool would miss most but having been without him for much of the past year Liverpool perhaps now see him as bonus, albeit a very special one. It could turn out that just as Gerrard comes back into contention his team-mate Luis Suarez becomes unavailable, depending on the outcome of the hearing brought about by Patrice Evra’s allegations of racism against Suarez. That’s something The Reds are still waiting to hear about and Kenny confirmed that there was still no news at the time of the press conference.

In reference to reports that Roberto Martinez had said it would be difficult to plan for the game with the uncertainty about Suarez’s availability Kenny was asked if it would affect his own planning: “It’s not affected us. I don’t think Luis is the only player he needs to worry about if he’s playing or not, I think there’s a few others. If he’s planning and identifying Luis as a danger man then fine, but I don’t see how it prevents him from planning.”

In fact what wasn’t pointed out to Kenny was that Martinez had said Suarez was one of a number of important players for Liverpool: “Suarez is an outstanding player,” said the Wigan boss, “and these players are unique. There’s not many players capable of winning games on their own. His movement off the ball is outstanding and he’s a clinical finisher.

“But if we think we’re going to have an easy game because Luis Suarez isn’t playing then we’re mistaken. I’m sure if he’s not there then it will be Andy Carroll or Dirk Kuyt.”

Martinez had been to see Liverpool in action and had a lot of good things to say about Kenny’s men: “Yes, it was a great opportunity to watch them play live and they are very impressive. This is the best Liverpool side we have seen in the past few years and it’s a perfect combination; players who have got real experience and know what it means to play for Liverpool and then a group of players enjoying a honeymoon period playing for Liverpool.

“And that combination makes it a team that can really hurt you on the counter attack with electrifying pace and outstanding moments from key players.

“They are a team that will be very tough to break down; they’ve got the best defensive record in the League, that’s something, and when you add it to the quality they have up front with Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy and Stewart Downing this is a serious strong side that this year I feel have got a lot to achieve.”

Asked what he thought of the Wigan manager saying this was the best Liverpool side seen for a few years he said: “I think he’s a nice man!”

Dalglish was also reluctant to talk about Wigan’s players, responding to a question about James McCarthy with: “It’s difficult for us to talk about other people’s players. You can imagine the headlines!”

Liverpool now await news from the FA about the Luis Suarez case and although there is a lot of anticipation that a decision will come today the FA’s statement on Friday made it clear that today was the earliest day a verdict was likely to be known.