LIVERPOOL will play their first game of 2013 without defender Jose Enrique, who injured his hamstring during Sunday’s 3-0 win at QPR.
Stewart Downing is likely to fill in for Enrique at left-back, while Lucas will hope to be recalled to the starting XI after being rested at the weekend.
Lucas came on against QPR in the 64th minute, replacing Jordan Henderson, who was able to play at Loftus Road despite being hit with the same virus that saw Brendan Rodgers, Brad Jones and Glen Driscoll sent home. Liverpool’s medical team have done everything in their power to prevent the virus from spreading and the Reds are optimistic that no more players or staff will be affected by the bug.
Rodgers is likely to return to the dugout for tonight’s game at home to Sunderland, but if Jones has not recovered from the virus, young keeper Peter Gulacsi will find himself on the bench once again. Gulacsi signed for Liverpool in 2007 but has yet to make a first-team appearance for the club.
Sunderland will travel to Anfield without defender John O’Shea, who picked up a hamstring injury against Spurs on Saturday. After being ineligible to face his parent club at the weekend, on-loan Danny Rose is expected to return to the side.
If Liverpool win on Wednesday, it will only be the second time this season that the Reds have managed back-to-back wins in the Premier League. Three points would also see Liverpool move up to eighth in the table.
Following their 2-1 defeat at home to Tottenham on Saturday, Sunderland are 14th with 22 points – six fewer than Liverpool. After a poor start which saw them win just two of their first 15 league games, the Black Cats have won three of their last five including a win over Manchester City.
Summer signing Steven Fletcher has scored eight league goals this campaign, including one against Liverpool when the sides met in September.
In his pre-Sunderland programme notes, skipper Steven Gerrard said there is plenty for Liverpool to be positive about going into the New Year. One thing is for certain – three points would be the perfect way for the Reds to start 2013.