Liverpool 2 Oldham Athletic 0: Fringe players crucial for successful FA Cup run, claims Brendan Rodgers
Rodgers also hopes that Iago Aspas's debut goal for the Reds will fill him with confidence for future appearances
Monday 06 January 2014
Brendan Rodgers admits his whole Liverpool squad will need to play a part in the rest of the season after seeing striker Iago Aspas open his account in the FA Cup.
Aspas, a summer signing from Celta Vigo, finally broke his Reds duck at the 11th time of asking with a hooked half-volley in a 2-0 third-round win over Oldham at Anfield as Rodgers entrusted his fringe players with righting the wrongs of last year's loss at Boundary Park.
However, it was far from plain sailing for the hosts and Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and 20-goal forward Luis Suarez were all summoned from the substitutes' bench to seal their progress, which was confirmed thanks to James Tarkowski's late own goal.
The likes of Aspas, Luis Alberto and Victor Moses were given chances to impress from the start, but a flat first 45 minutes provided little evidence of great strength in depth amongst Rodgers' ranks.
"They have to contribute - I can't rely on 11, 12 players," said the Liverpool manager.
"(Goalkeeper) Brad Jones coming in was excellent, Brad's been a really loyal number two. He didn't have much to do, but what he did do with his hands was clean and his distribution was very good.
"Iago - it's important for his confidence. It's been difficult when you have a world-class striker playing week in, week out and getting goals. Then you've got Daniel Sturridge supporting, so he's been the cover player a lot of this season apart form the opening period.
"It was good for him to get his goal in front of the Kop and hopefully that'll give him a little bit of confidence."
Perhaps mindful of last season's exit at the hands of the same opponent, Rodgers called for the cavalry at half-time by introducing Lucas and Coutinho, while Suarez's late cameo was a sign his plan A did not quite materalise.
Rodgers added: "You hope in a game like this to rest a number of players.
"Obviously Lucas and Coutinho have played all of the Christmas period, hard games, so the ideal scenario would have been to let them recover. But we also wanted to win the game, we didn't want a replay. Second half we were more lively in our game and ended up with a good victory."
It was Oldham's third FA Cup meeting with Liverpool in as many years, but the Anfield experience was a new one for both boss Lee Johnson and many of his young charges.
"That will build the learning process and make them better players in the long run," said Johnson, who at 32 is the Football League's youngest manager.
"It's so young, this group, and every little bit of experience like this we can grab on to. They'll only get better."
Latest in Sport
Phil Jagielka: I may never win back England place, says Everton defender
Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
Rio Ferdinand mocks Jamie Carragher's Liverpudlian accent... but Liverpool man hits back at Londoner
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Comment: Alan Pardew is just a stooge for Mike Ashley who runs Newcastle like his shops – cheap foreign imports and a tame manager
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes