Saturday, July 13, 2013

Preston North End vs Liverpool

Liverpool get their preseason campaign up and running on Saturday as they take on Preston North End in their first friendly fixture of the summer.

The Reds are gearing up for their only preseason game on home soil before they head for the Southern Hemisphere and their tour of Australia and Thailand. Brendan Rodgers and his team have been back in training for close to two weeks, undertaking physical work mixed in with ball work, and this will be the first chance for the players to get back on the pitch after the summer off.

Liverpool ended last season placed in seventh in the Premier League, while Preston ended 14th in League One, the third tier of English football.

The two clubs have met a total of 69 times, with the last match coming in 2009, an FA Cup third round game which the Reds triumphed in, 2-0. Albert Riera and Fernando Torres scored for Liverpool. Just five of the Reds' players in that match-day squad remain at the club.

The winners of the friendly fixture will be awarded with the Bill Shankly trophy, a specially-commissioned trophy to mark the occasion. "Shanks" was a player for Preston, making over 300 appearances for them, before he later became perhaps the most famous Liverpool manager ever, taking the club from the Second Division to Champions of England.

Liverpool are without their Confederations Cup participants, who have not yet returned to training.

Seb Coates, Luis Suarez and Pepe Reina will therefore play no part in the friendly.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has intimated, via the official club website, that the four new signings—Kolo Toure, Iago Aspas, Simon Mignolet and Luis Alberto—may all play a part in the game.

There's every chance. All of the players are working here. If they are all well and fit then they will travel for the game on Saturday. Simon Mignolet will play, of course; Aspas, Luis Alberto and Kolo Toure - they will all get a run-out.

Preston have so far signed three players to permanent deals, including former Premier League striker Kevin Davies, and have loaned Norwich City goalkeeper Declan Rudd. All four players could also play a part for Preston against Liverpool.

Furthermore, Iain Hume has been removed from the transfer list at Preston, so he could also be involved. Hume had been expected to leave this summer after being sent out on loan last term, but will now remain a Preston player this season, as per the club website.

For Preston, there will only be one name to look out for from a Preston-vs.-Liverpool perspective; central midfielder John Welsh was a player for the Reds under Gerard Houllier and made 10 first-team appearances before moving on.

For Liverpool, it's likely that the new boys will be the focus of most fans' attentions, so goalkeeper Simon Mignolet will get an early chance to prove his worth as a first-choice stopper. Iago Aspas, as the senior attacker brought to the club thus far, will also hope to have a big impact.

As always, a number of youngsters will be expected to take part in preseason friendlies and there are always expectant and excited eyes on those who are involved for the first time.

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