LIVERPOOL are sweating on the fitness of Daniel Agger after the defender pulled out of the Denmark squad for tonight’s game with Russia.
The 27-year-old was substituted after 86 minutes of Sunday’s Carling Cup final with Cardiff City at Wembley with a suspected broken rib and though X-rays should reveal the full extent of his injury, the Reds are preparing to be without the Dane for this weekend’s Barclays Premier League game with Arsenal.
Agger cracked two ribs during September’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur and missed three games before returning to the matchday squad, although he would not start again until late October when Liverpool went to Stoke City in the Carling Cup.
The nature of this latest injury strongly suggests that Agger will miss Saturday’s lunchtime (12.45pm) game with Arsenal and also cast doubts over his involvement in a crunch run of fixtures in March.
Kenny Dalglish’s side follow up the Arsenal game with a trip to Sunderland before the rearranged derby on March 13. Five days after the match with Everton, Liverpool welcome Stoke to Anfield for an FA Cup quarter-final clash and the fear remains Agger could be absent for all.
“Daniel isn’t here with us, and he has sent his apologies,” said Denmark manager Morten Olsen
“We, and especially Daniel, are sorry he can’t join up with us. But then again, we have other players here who have done well when he’s not been here in the past.
“Daniel is a player that plays when he’s ready, but he has been a bit unlucky last year with a lot of injuries, so we are almost accustomed to playing without him, although he will obviously be missed.”
Jamie Carragher replaced Agger at Wembley on Sunday and the 34-year-old will be readying himself for a recall ahead of Arsenal’s visit to Merseyside on Saturday.
Agger has created a formidable partnership with Martin Skrtel this season but Liverpool have the luxury of being able to call upon the vast experience of Carragher.
Slovakian international Skrtel, in the squad for this evening’s friendly in Turkey, added another accolade to add to his Carling Cup winners’ medal this week.
The 27-year-old, fresh from his goal scoring exploits at Wembley, scooped the Slovakian Player of the Year on Monday night.
Flying straight from London to his homeland after Liverpool had defeated Cardiff City on penalties, Skrtel picked up the award for the third time in his career and beat off competition from Marek Hamsik of Napoli and Genoa’s Juraj Kucka.
Skrtel, signed by the Reds in January 2008 for £6.5m, was an ever present in the Premier League last season and is enjoying his best period at Anfield since moving from Zenit St Petersburg.
“What can I say?” said Skrtel.
“I won two trophies in two days. It’s fantastic.
“I am very happy to win it for the third time.
“I was not successful for the last two years but this year is different.
“Everything is going so well.
“I would like to say thanks for all the votes you gave me and for all the support people are showing me. It is a great feeling. I can only promise you that I will work as hard as I can to win it again.”
Skrtel won the award in 2007 and 2008.