Liverpool reunite Gerrard and Owen

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Gerard Houllier hopes the England double act of Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard are about to show why they have been missed by their club.

The pair are reunited against Wolves at Molineux tonight as the Reds try to challenge for a Champions' League place. Gerrard returns after four games out with a thigh injury while Owen starts only his third match since early November.

The Liverpool manager said: "When Steven plays for England they do not lose. Look at the results, they always win or draw when he plays."

Owen and Gerrard have played together 12 times for Liverpool this season and the side has lost just two of those games, while eight of Owen's nine goals have been scored with Gerrard in the team. "There is an understanding in their game. Stevie knows where Michael will move and his runs," Houllier added.

The striker Milan Baros is still out with a broken ankle but the goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek may return quickly after a groin strain. His deputy, Chris Kirkland (broken finger), cannot train for three weeks and the third-choice keeper, Patrice Luzi, has a back problem.

Jamie Carragher and Steve Finnan are back in the squad after long-term injuries, but Vladimir Smicer, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Salif Diao and El-Hadji Diouf are all out.

The Wolves manager, Dave Jones, has lost his on-loan midfielder Hassan Kachloul, who has returned to Aston Villa after injury. He made only four substitute appearances since moving to Wolves in September.

In the Carling Cup, as Aston Villa meet Bolton in the first leg of their semi-final tonight, David O'Leary is determined to prove he is not just a chequebook manager as he prepares for his first semi-final as the Aston Villa manager. "People say I spent £90m at Leeds United on players, but no one ever says that I brought in £60m from selling players," he said. "With that £30m I helped to get them into Europe every year. I think I spent well at Leeds. What I took this job for was to shut people up who were on about that sort of stuff."

Darius Vassell and the midfielder Gavin McCann are expected to be fit after missing the 2-0 home defeat by Arsenal on Sunday with hamstring and knee problems respectively.

Simon Charlton (hamstring) may return for Bolton. Emerson Thome is doubtful with a calf injury while the midfielder Per Frandsen is suspended. The Nigerian playmaker Jay-Jay Okocha is expected to lead the side after delaying his departure to the African Nations Cup.