Football: Fowler's return remains on hold

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ROBBIE FOWLER remains unlikely to be included in Liverpool's squad for Saturday's match at West Ham despite scoring a hat-trick for the reserves on Monday night.

The Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, is not convinced that the England striker is near enough to full fitness, following the ankle injury that has prevented him playing in 11 of Liverpool's last 12 first-team matches.

Fowler is still complaining of soreness around the ankle, and yesterday made a precautionary visit to his specialist after his three goals in the 6-2 reserve victory at Barnsley.

The 24-year-old had a similar trip to the specialist after scoring in his first reserve run-out last week, a 4-0 win over Sunderland's second string.

But Houllier is unwilling to take any risks with Fowler, no doubt mindful of the fact that Michael Owen had two setbacks during his recovery from the hamstring injury he picked up last season.

Houllier will therefore not rush Fowler back, despite his recent observation that: "We have only had our two main strikers together for 60 minutes so far, and we are now in November."

In five pre-season friendlies, seven senior games and two reserve matches so far this term, Fowler has scored 11 goals but yesterday Houllier said: "Despite scoring three at Barnsley, Robbie still doesn't seem to be on top form. What is more, he still has a slight soreness around the ankle."

Houllier hopes his African forward Titi Camara will have recovered from a thigh injury to be involved at West Ham. Steve Staunton and Vladimir Smicer look less likely to be in contention, with knee and hamstring problems respectively.

A former England striker, Celtic's Ian Wright, has reiterated his desire to retire from football at the end of the season and pursue a career in the media. The news may disappoint fans of the Glasgow club who had hoped Wright would extend his career after joining them last month from West Ham to fill the void left by Henrik Larsson, who has a broken leg.

"I'm going to stay with Celtic until the end of the season and then I'm going to retire from football like I said I would," Wright confirmed.