NEW signing Daniel Sturridge is likely to have to wait for his full Liverpool debut with manager Brendan Rodgers ready to start him on the bench against Mansfield Town.
The £12m capture from Chelsea has been training with the Reds squad since joining on Wednesday from Chelsea but not yet match fit, 23-year-old Sturridge is likely to be a substitute in tomorrow’s third round tie.
That leaves Rodgers with Luis Suarez as his only recognised senior striker for the game at the One Call Stadium.
And although the manager has said the club’s top scorer is deserving of a rest, Suarez’s desire to play may mean the 18-goal man starts against the non-league side.
Captain Steven Gerrard is not expected to be involved in the matchday squad as Rodgers seeks to give as many first-team regulars a rest as he possibly can following a hectic fixture list over Christmas and New Year.
So the skipper’s armband will be handed to Jamie Carragher who is in line for his 720th appearance for the club.
“This is one where I have got to utilise the squad,” said Rodgers.
“This is the nature of it. Coming off the back of four tough games, this is how I have got to look at it.
“But I will pick a squad to win it and that’s they key thing.”
On Suarez, Rodgers added: “The players are paid here to play wherever the club ask them.
“Every game is a massive game, whether it is Mansfield away or Manchester United away.
“Luis is a player who loves playing, that is why he is here: to play games and score goals.
“I speak a lot with him and I know from working with him he wants to play.
“He is an ultimate professional. There are no worries with him.
“But he’s coming off the back of a real busy period where he’s given everything in the games and scored goals.
“We have players coming back now, which is great, and having Daniel come through the door and Fabio Borini returning from injury (soon) will be great for us.
“We will pick a team which will hopefully win the game.”
One alternative to having to play Suarez is deploying Jonjo Shelvey in a similar position he took up against Young Boys in the Europa League tie at Anfield in November.