Liverpool v Bolton preview
Roy Hodgson goes into Liverpool's clash against Bolton with his immediate future under close scrutiny.
By Rob Parrish
Last Updated: 31/12/10 12:35pm
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson goes into Saturday's clash against Bolton with his immediate future at Anfield under close scrutiny.
The New Year's Day showdown on Merseyside pits one side with designs on a European berth against another glancing nervously over their shoulder at the relegation zone.
Sadly for the increasingly frustrated Reds fans, it is they who find their side just three points above the bottom three, while Bolton are sitting pretty in sixth.
Hodgson's sometimes fractious relationship with the supporters became increasingly fraught following the miserable 1-0 home defeat by Wolves, with sections of the home fans turning on the manager.
The former Fulham boss then suggested he had not been given the 'famous Anfield support' following his appointment as Rafa Benitez's replacement in the summer, comments he has since moved to clarify.
But the reaction Hodgson and his side receive during their first outing of 2011 after a truly miserable 2010 will be worth monitoring, and the Reds can ill-afford to suffer another home humiliation after their setbacks at the hands of Blackpool and Wolves.
Bolton make the short trip to Merseyside eager to improve on their recent away record which has seen them suffer three consecutive 1-0 defeats at the hands of Manchester City, Sunderland and Chelsea.
Owen Coyle's side were unfortunate to leave Stamford Bridge with nothing to show for their efforts on Wednesday evening, a measure of how far the Trotters have progressed under the former Burnley manager.
Hodgson is hoping influential captain Steven Gerrard will be fit to feature against Bolton after the midfielder made his first appearance since mid-November following a groin injury against Wolves.
The Reds boss admitted the England international was 'extremely tired' after playing the full 90 minutes on Wednesday night and will wait until closer to kick-off before making a decision on his inclusion.
And Joe Cole is facing further injury frustration after aggravating an ankle problem in training with the former Chelsea man still to make his mark for the Reds following his much-vaunted summer arrival on a free transfer.
Coyle continues to be short on numbers and could only name six substitutes for the narrow defeat by Chelsea on Wednesday.
The Bolton boss expects to take a squad of just 15 to Anfield as defender Paul Robinson is suspended following his yellow card against the Blues, while United States midfielder Stuart Holden is expected to miss out due to an injury sustained at Stamford Bridge.
Key midfielder Lee Chung-yong is away on Asian Cup duty with South Korea until the end of January, while Tamir Cohen is on compassionate leave following the death of his father, former Liverpool defender Avi Cohen.
Gretar Steinsson is still sidelined by a knee injury, while Joey O'Brien, Sean Davis, Ricardo Gardner and Jlloyd Samuel are all absent too.
Possible starting XIs:
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky, Kuyt, Gerrard, Lucas, Meireles, Torres, N'Gog.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Cahill, Knight, Alonso, Petrov, Rodrigo, Muamba, Taylor, Davies, Elmander.