Liverpool's ever-growing injury list added another name yesterday when Daniel Agger joined Mamadou Sakho, Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique, Jon Flanagan, Joe Allen, and Daniel Sturridge. Aside from Flanagan, who was filling in for Enrique when he fell injured, every player on the list would be in contention to start were he fit.
For Allen and Sturridge at least there appears an end in sight, with both expected to return shortly, while Agger's injury could turn out to be less serious than suspected. It still makes for a tough situation for Liverpool, with most of a potential starting eleven out injured. Kolo Toure, though, believes the injuries can be overcome.
"It’s been a tough period with so many games and we’re playing in such a tough league," Toure told the Liverpool Echo. "Everybody in the squad always gives 100% in training and in games and when you do that you can pick up injuries. It’s part of the game. We have other players who can step in and play.
"It’s not easy when you have to make a lot of changes but that’s what pre-season was for—to get everyone used to playing with each other. When the league starts you know that anything can happen. We have to adapt and get on with it. It’s really hard to get games here so when you have a chance to play you have to be ready."
After a tough stretch that has seen Liverpool play two matches most weeks since the start of December, at least now there will also be time between games to recover—hopefully lessening the chance of injury. Having advanced in the FA Cup will add another match at the end of the month of course, but even if the top four is the priority, a chance for silverware is never a bad thing.
"It was very important for us to get through," added the Ivorian defender. "These games can be very difficult. Give credit to Oldham as they played very well. They came here and they weren’t scared. But I thought we controlled the game very well. We never got nervous which was very important and we are into the next round."
At the end of the first half, a worse fate even than a loss seemed increasingly possible as a nil-nil scoreline and Oldham's defence-first attitude hinted at a replay that would have extended Liverpool's congested fixture list. A few smart substitutions, though, were enough to break the deadlock, and now it's on to the next round—and to having a few days off between matches.