Internationals – don’t they just get in the way these days?

So the big news today is that, after a period that would rival the cold war, Fergie has decided to put away childish things and start talking to the BBC again. Nope, Ok, sorry didn’t think you’d fall for anything so ridiculous, even allowing for today’s date!

“Part one” of international week is over seemingly with minimal damage to key Liverpool players. Steven Gerrard was hooked off fairly early in The Chariots of Fire XI (cut the “haute couture” nonsense it’s just a polo shirt) game against Slovakia and, as far as I can ascertain, our Spanish contingent game through unscathed against Turkey. I watched Holland v Scotland and saw Dirk Kuyt come through Ok and before that Wales v Finland and wished we’d hung to Jari Litmanen for longer than we did. Why did we let him go? Sadly however it appears that Sami might have picked up a knee injury in the same match, whilst Yossi Benayoun aggravated a knee playing for Israel against Greece. Not a major disaster but a blow all the same.

Tonight it will be interesting to see how Andri Voronin does against England for Ukraine. By all accounts he’s been doing well for Hertha Berlin. In a case of not quite burning your bridges but singeing them slightly, it seems he feels he has a point to prove at Anfield as he wasn’t given a fair chance due to selection and then injury. He suggests that Rafa was wrong not to pick him he then goes on to state that he’d love to return to us!

Speaking of ex reds strikers it seems Martin Srktel has got up Peter Crouch’s lofty nose over his challenge on Saturday that caused him to limp off.

“I went up with Skrtel. I thought he was my mate to be honest, but obviously not, I went up with him and he kicked out and gave me a dead leg. It was a little bit (out of order). It’s for other people to discuss if he didn’t have the best of days.”

Yep and my discussion starts with the fact that football, regardless of what the writers of the rule book and referees try to tell us, remains a contact sport. I’ve never seen a match, friendly or otherwise, where it was expected that defenders, “mates” or otherwise, should subserviently assume the role of mere extras or foot soldiers to the main act, refrain from stopping forwards and roll out the welcome mat in the penalty area. Come to think of it Crouch was a tad unlucky as that is what Srktel and his colleagues seemed to do for most of Saturday! Nonetheless Crouch is a professional and such silliness does him no favours particularly as Capello has named him in today’s side thus suggesting that his “injury” was not as bad as it seemed?

As for Srktel well he did have a bad one. One wonders if he is the sort of player who suffers when taken out of his “comfort zone”, as he was against Middlesbrough when Rafa played him at full back. He was simply unable to handle Rooney which was perhaps his personal “pay back” for Old Trafford a few weeks ago?

It remains to be seen whether our players will come through “round two” of the internationals with a clean bill of health. Of course one is also wondering what this has done to the title race. Has this week stalled our momentum or improved our chances? Perhaps the delay has made us hungrier? Have United welcomed the break, a chance to regroup and take stock?

One thing that we can be sure of is that Rafa and most Reds fans will be watching tonight’s games not solely with a view to following their national team, whoever it may be, but also hoping that Liverpool players come through safe, sound and eager to pick up where they left off domestically?

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