Reds look to Ings for spark up front

After scoring against Norwich, striker is set to replace injured Benteke for League Cup tie

LONDON • Christian Benteke was set to have a scan on a hamstring problem yesterday amid concerns the Liverpool striker could miss a reunion with his former club Aston Villa.

The £32.5 million (S$71 million) summer signing was substituted at half-time during Liverpool's 1-1 draw against Norwich City on Sunday, having suffered a tight hamstring.

Benteke remains affected by the problem and will miss the visit of Carlisle United to Anfield today in the League Cup third round.

He could also be absent when his former club Villa arrive on Merseyside on Saturday in the English Premier League.

Danny Ings would have been in contention to make his first Anfield start today regardless of Benteke's availability, having delivered a fine goal-scoring display as the Belgium international's replacement against Norwich.

WE'RE GETTING THERE

There is always pressure when results do not go well. But day by day, the (understanding between the coaching staff) is getting better and better. When the heat is on, you tend to get closer as a group.

GARY MCALLISTER, Liverpool's assistant manager

HE'S GETTING IT

If you see him every day in training, there is no one who deserves a goal more than him. It was no fluke that he was able to get into the position and score. He has been working hard at his game.

MCALLISTER on striker Danny Ings

Liverpool first-team coach Gary McAllister, speaking at a press conference to preview the game on Brendan Rodgers' behalf, said: "It was refreshing to see Danny's performance. He's been working his socks off every day in training and deserved his goal.

"It was no fluke that he was able to get in that position and score - he's been working hard at his game."

The Merseysiders could do with Ings' firepower once again. They have scored only four league goals this season, the second lowest behind Newcastle (three).

McAllister admitted while young striker Divock Origi is also in Rodgers' thinking for the third- round clash, wholesale changes are unlikely.

"You have got to utilise the players you have got but we have got to get some momentum going as well," he said of the Reds, who are winless in five games in all competitions. "We want some stability in the shape and style, so it will be similar to the weekend."

McAllister was part of the Liverpool squad that won the League Cup in 2001. With the club going on to win the FA Cup and Uefa Cup that season, the former midfielder knows that a victory over the League Two side - the lowest-ranked team left in the competition - can give them something to build on.

"We need to give the fans something to shout about. It is ideal to get a little run going," he said.

"But we are thoroughly aware it is not going to be easy. They are not going to come here and roll over."

Carlisle's fortunes in front of goal are a stark contrast to Liverpool's.

They are the top-scoring team in the Football League with 17 goals in eight games. And in Jabo Ibehre, they also boast the top scorer in England.

The Carlisle striker has 10 goals in 10 games this season, including eight in eight in the fourth-tier League Two.

Carlisle manager Keith Curle has vowed that his men will play with freedom as they seek a major scalp.

"If you go there with any fear, you just don't perform," he told the club's website. "That will be the message because people who show any kind of fear simply do not perform.

"We're going to show them clips of what Liverpool do when they get things wrong. Mistakes do happen and they do concede goals. Can we score against Liverpool? Damn right we can!"

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2015, with the headline 'REDS LOOK TO INGS FOR SPARK UP FRONT'. Print Edition | Subscribe