Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is refusing to reveal the role that Andy Carroll will play in Thursday night’s Europa League second-leg tie with Braga.
The Premier League side are trailing 1-0 going into the home tie and the former Newcastle striker, who was a second-half substitute in the first clash, could be the key.
“We either start with him or he comes on in the second half and that will be decided by us based on how he does in training and what we think will be best for us on the night,” Dalglish said.
“We have been pleased with everything he has done, the way he has recuperated from his injury, the way he has trained and the way he has gone about his job on the pitch. There is nothing there that has been disappointing to us with regards to Andy.”
One mystery that Dalglish does not have the answer to is how Kaka escaped punishment for an elbow on his new striker.
“The biggest impact that Andy Carroll got was when he got caught with the elbow from Kaka, I didn’t see at the game but I’ve seen it since and if there is no retribution from UEFA then it’s a real surprise to me,” he said.
“For me, that is what Andy will remember most from the game, he is fit and well but what we are going to do with him remains to be seen.”
Home advantage is likely to play a big part in who progresses in the competition and the Scottish manager believes the Anfield atmosphere will help his team into the quarter-finals.
“Playing at Anfield is always an advantage for us. We know the position in the game, the fans can help us but we can help ourselves more than anybody else so it’s up to us to start better than we did in the first leg,” Dalglish said.
“We know what we have to do to get through and I am sure everyone wants us to get through and Anfield is a place that everyone looks forward to playing at especially for European games.”
Liverpool had a week off with the FA Cup fixtures being played at the weekend and that has allowed Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing to return to the squad, although Steven Gerrard remains out after groin surgery.
Spearing realises how much the club captain will be missed but he believes the club have the resources to get a win.
“Every game Steven plays in he has a massive influence as you saw in the early group game he played where he came on as a substitute and scored a second-half hat-trick,” Spearing said.
“The presence that he has and the player he is and with him being out it’s a sign for me and the other lads to step up and make a claim and hopefully get a run of games in.”
“It’s a massive competition for us as we are out of the FA and Carling Cups so it’s the only bit of silverware we can get at the moment.”