Brendan Rodgers hoping that Daniel Sturridge can make Merseyside derby
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has not given up hope of Daniel Sturridge playing some part in the Merseyside derby.
The England striker has been sorely missed by the Reds since sustaining a thigh injury on international duty earlier this month but is inching ever closer to a comeback.
In his absence Rodgers' side have lost to Aston Villa and West Ham, snuck a last-gasp win over Ludogorets in the Champions League and required penalties to see off Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup.
They would dearly love to unleash the 25-year-old against their neighbours at Anfield but although Rodgers was upbeat about his recovery, an appearance this weekend appears to be based on hope as much as expectation.
"We'll be very happy to have him back and we hope that can be this weekend," said the Northern Irishman. "We've got a number of injuries that we're going to give every chance to.
"He (Sturridge) is a player who's out on the field working. Him and a number of others we'll just assess nearer the time. But if he doesn't make it he won't be far off after that.
"He's someone that responds well to treatment. Obviously it's gone well but there are still a couple of days to go before the game. The most important thing is he's near to fitness.
"He certainly won't be match-fit, he hasn't played for a few weeks, but it'll be great to have him back because he's a wonderful player for us.
"He's a great reference for our team at the top of the field, his pace and movement and quality, which we saw the last time he played against Tottenham."
Another of Rodgers' talented young England stars, Raheem Sterling, has been linked this week with Spanish giants Real Madrid.
The 19-year-old forward, whose contract at Anfield runs until 2017, is one of the brightest young talents in the Premier League and has had an impressive start to the season but his manager is not losing sleep over the reported interest.
"It shows that he's playing exceptionally well," said Rodgers.
"I think you could probably link Raheem with every club in the world at the moment. He's a fantastic young talent.
"I've nothing really to add to it. There's obviously lots of speculation every day about players coming and going here at Liverpool.
"He's a wonderful boy who's developing very, very well here. I think him and his representatives and the people close to him know how comfortable he is here and I'm sure at some point in the future, whatever contract we're looking to work with will be sorted, but he's still got three years left and there's no rush from my perspective."
Meanwhile, Liverpool are expected to turn a near-£50million loss reported in 2013 into a profit last season - figures that the club are confident will mean they avoid any sanctions from UEFA for financial fair play (FFP) rule breaches.
UEFA has announced that Liverpool are one of seven clubs who did not play in European competition last season who are under investigation for potential FFP breaches.
Rodgers said the club were "comfortable" with UEFA's action and it is understood the 2013-14 figures will show a profit when they are formally announced in the spring. That is a significant turnaround given that Liverpool made a loss of £49.8million for the 2012-13 season, and £40.5million for the 10-month period before that.
UEFA's FFP rules dictate that losses must be restricted to £35.4million over a two-year window so ending the 2013-14 season in the black - thanks to a combination of the bumper new Premier League TV deal, commercial income increases and cost-cutting - will be a huge boost to efforts to avoid sanctions.