The road to one of the three remaining opportunities at silverware gets underway tomorrow for Steven Gerrard and Liverpool, and while there's going to be plenty of talk about the captain signing off with a trophy, it doesn't look as though he'll be involved from the outset. With 90 minutes logged against Leicester City on the first day of the new year, Gerrard will likely be a spectator from the bench, hopeful that his teammates can bring Liverpool forward to the fourth round and closer to a chance at a trophy in his final season at the club.
Wimbledon won't be pushovers, especially at home, but they're the type of opposition that Liverpool should be handling. Neal Ardley's squad is firmly mid-table in League Two on 33 points, five back of a promotion playoff spot. They won four of five in the month of December, however, including the narrow 1-0 win away to Wycombe in the second round of the FA Cup with Sean Rigg scoring the winner that saw them through.
Ardley will welcome Barry Fuller and Sammy Moore back into the squad after the former was injured and the latter missed out through illness. Last time out against Exeter City--a resounding 4-1 victory--Ardley went with James Shea in goal, Fuller, Callum Kennedy, Adam Barrett, and Jake Goodman across the back, Dannie Bulman, George Francomb, Rigg, and Harry Pell in the midfield, and Mattew Tubbs and Adebayo Azeez up front. Adebayo Akinfenwa, the Dons' most well-known player, started on the bench after returning from injury but scored after coming on as a substitute.
Skrtel Lovren Sakho
Manquillo Rossiter Henderson Moreno
Borini Balotelli Markovic
Adam Lallana joins the ranks of the injured, though there hasn't been much discussion of the nature of his injury beyond the fact that it forced him off against Leicester on Thursday. He'll likely join Brad Jones, Jon Flanagan, Glen Johnson, Joe Allen, and Daniel Sturridge as absentees. No other additions as Liverpool enter their second busy month of the winter, but changes will be expected give how busy most have been.
That makes guessing a lineup difficult, though there aren't too many different options if Brendan Rodgers goes with a similar formation to what he has utilized in recent weeks. The defensive unit should be almost entirely first-choice, with Simon Mignolet in goal and Martin Skrtel back from suspension to join two from Kolo Toure, Dejan Lovren, and Mamadou Sakho at the back. Lovren will likely make his return, and Sakho gets the nod over Toure with Emre Can either pushed into the midfield or given a rest.
The wingbacks and midfield should be closer to the Swansea victory in terms of personnel, though Lucas will probably get a rest along with Steven Gerrard. Hopefully Jordan Henderson is restored centrally to join Jordan Rossiter or Emre Can, and with Allen still injured, those appear to be the only options if Lucas and Gerrard are on the bench or out of the squad.
This appears to be the most likely time for Raheem Sterling to be given a rest, and Rodgers should take advantage of the fact that the 20-year-old can have a nine day break between the Leicester City and Sunderland matches. Lallana is injured and Philippe Coutinho could use a rest after featuring heavily in the last few weeks. Who comes in should be interesting, though Lazar Markovic appears a lock for one of the three attacking spots. Each of Rickie Lambert, Mario Balotelli, and Fabio Borini are vying for spots top, while Sheyi Ojo could come into the reckoning for one of the spots vacated by Lallana and Coutinho. Maybe Borini, Balotelli, and Markovic across the front because nobody really knows what's going on anyway.
Kickoff is set for 7:55PM GMT/2:55PM EST on Monday, with BBC One carrying the match live in the UK and Fox Sports One providing coverage in the United States. Our coverage will continue with the overnight open thread tonight and carry into live coverage, team sheets an hour before kickoff, and post-match reaction. If you haven't already, sign up for an SBNation account and join us for it.
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