Match Preview: Mansfield v. Liverpool, 01.06.13

Ross Kinnaird

Liverpool's FA Cup campaign gets underway at Conference National side Mansfield on Sunday, with Brendan Rodgers expected to mix his squad up after the midweek win over Sunderland.

After what seems like a long layoff from cup competition, we're finally back into some immediately meaningful matches for Liverpool. The win against Udinese in December was the last cup fixture Liverpool's had, and while the Premier League calendar has been crowded enough to keep us busy, the cups have provided a different look for Brendan Rodgers' side this season. Youngsters and fringe first-teamers carried the banner early on, and while Europa League fixtures were turned back over to the senior squad, we should something closer to West Brom than Udinese or Anzhi tomorrow.

Whoever it is, we'll see them take part in the FA Cuppiest FA Cup fixture of the round. There's Hastings taking on Middlesbrough today, but in terms of any sort of quintessential giant killing, this one's it. History should serve as enough motivation for Rodgers and company, even if most of those who'll take part tomorrow weren't around for the more damaging cup fixtures against lower-level opposition.

Currently ninth in the Blue Square Premier League table (albeit with anywhere from one to four games in hand on the teams above them), Paul Cox's squad made it to the third round via a win against Workington, and two-legged ties with both Slough and Lincoln City, the latter of which was sealed with a 2-1 home win to progress. They've only lost one of their last seven in league, a home loss to Alfreton Town that they overturned a week later, winning 3-0 away from Field Mill.

There's little for me to offer in terms of their squad, as gobbling up information about the Conference National isn't the easiest bit of business, and what is available doesn't provide much beyond names and numbers. Jake Speight and Matt Green lead the side with eight goals overall, and both Speight and Louis Briscoe had two apiece in the FA Cup.

For Liverpool:

Jones
Wisdom Coates Carragher Robinson
Coady Allen
Shelvey
Suso Sturridge Suarez

With a host of names expected to be left out, it's hard telling who exactly is in for sure. We know Steven Gerrard is in Dubai--seriously--and most of the regular first-teamers will be rotated, but the good news is that aside from Jose Enrique, none of them appear to be because of injury of fitness issues. And as noted earlier in the week, Fabio Borini is suppose to rejoin the squad for training next week, which will leave Martin Kelly as the only long-term absentee. Only small concern is about Daniel Sturridge, who hasn't played in awhile.

Even though he's likely to head out during the month, I hope that Sebastian Coates can get a start. Jamie Carragher's nailed-on, and there's a good chance that Martin Skrtel plays instead of the Uruguayan, but that doesn't change the fact that I'd still like to see Coates get the minutes. Andre Wisdom might be in line for another start just by process of elimination, with Jon Flanagan missing and no other options unless Brendan Rodgers is planning to push Carragher to right-back. The other side isn't too much clearer, although there's again hope for Jack Robinson to surface. If he doesn't, it's likely to be Stewart Downing.

Rumors about canceling Nuri Sahin's loan may or may not have an impact on his place in the eleven for tomorrow; like Coates, leaving later in the month doesn't demand that he be left out, but unlike Coates there doesn't really seem to be any future at the club for the Turkish midfielder. He could still play, though, and he'd be likely to do so with Joe Allen and Jonjo Shelvey. I'll guess that Conor Coady gets the start instead of Sahin just because, and that either Shelvey or Suso take up the advanced midfield role.

There's a lot of factors at work across the front, with Sturridge's fitness likely to be managed and Luis Suarez apparently in need of as much match time as possible to stay fit. If they both start it'll be interesting to see if the central/wide debate comes to fruition, although a run-out against a Conference National side might not be the best evidence. As noted, I expect Suso or Shelvey to join them, although Stewart Downing's possible as well.

Kickoff is set for 4:00PM GMT/11:00AM EST, and Fox Soccer Channel will have it live in the US, with ESPN airing it in the UK. Matchday and overnight threads will run as usual, with any transfer news from the day running alongside the storystream on the front page. Team sheets are expected to be available around an hour before kickoff, and hopefully you'll be able to join us here or over on Twitter.

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