BARMBY SET TO MISS PORTO CLASH
By Peter O`Rourke
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The England international picked up an ankle injury during Sunday's FA Cup victory over Tranmere Rovers and is rated very doubtful for the vital game as Liverpool continue their chase for honours on three fronts.
Reds manager Gerard Houllier admitted that Barmby was very unlikely to play in the game but said he would give him to the last minute to prove his fitness.
"Nick had to come off because his ankle was feeling very sore," said Houllier. "It was a bad tackle on him and he felt it straight away.
"We'll have a look at the injury at Melwood and take things from there. At the moment I would say he is very doubtful for the Porto game."
Swiss defender Stephane Henchoz is also a major doubt for the visit of Porto as he is still struggling with a knee problem he sustained in the first leg of the tie in Portugal.
The former Blackburn Rovers ace missed the FA Cup game at Tranmere with the injury and he faces a race against time to be fit for Thursday's match.
Meanwhile, Houllier believes that Reds midfield star Danny Murphy deserves an England call-up just a year after it looked like his days at Anfield might be numbered.
The Frenchman was close to giving up on Murphy at the start of last season, but now sees him as a one of his most important players.
Murphy again showed his importance to the side when he scored one and set-up another against Tranmere in his first start since picking up a knee injury against Leeds last month.
New England boss Sven Goran Eriksson has shown that he is willing to give everyone a chance and Houllier feels he could do worse than include Murphy in his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Finland and Albania later in the month.
"Danny is technically accomplished and has improved so much that you cannot rule him out,' said Houllier. "He must keep in mind that there is still a lot of work to be done, but if he keeps improving, there is no reason why he cannot go on to play for his country.
'I could name plenty who have been given an opportunity at international level without having anything like as much ability as Danny. He is starting to believe in himself more and is showing the right attitude, so it could happen for him before long.'
Murphy admitted that Houllier has played a major role on his getting his Liverpool career back on track.
"I know I needed a kick up the backside and the manager duly gave me one," said Murphy. "I thought I was on a downward spiral after going back to Crewe on loan.
'"To be fair to the boss, he didn't just give me a rocket. He also made it clear there could be a place for me if I carried on working.
"He gave me belief in my ability, and that meant a great deal. If someone of his experience and standing in the game felt I was good enough to play for Liverpool, I had to start believing it.
'There were no cast-iron guarantees and it wouldn't have been right to expect any. But it makes a difference when you are working for someone who has faith in you.'
The 24-year-old refused to get carried away with all the talk of his possible inclusion in the England squad but, admitted that at present his form and confidence are at an all-time high.
"I think people are getting a bit carried away because I have scored a few goals from midfield and strung together a few decent performances,'" said Murphy.
"My priority has always been to nail down a regular place in the Liverpool team and it has delighted me that I have been involved in most of the games. If that continues, England might happen, but I think that is a bit further down the line."