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Strachan Faces Striker Dilemma For Liverpool

Coventry City manager Gordon Strachan may solve his striker problem by naming three forwards at Liverpool tomorrow.

Strachan has been on the horns of a dilemma since the rise to prominence of on-loan Belgian Cedric Roussel and the return to fitness of Noel Whelan.

Roussel has quickly become a firm favourite since scoring against Aston Villa in the 2-1 derby win but controversially lost out to Whelan in the FA Cup third round game at Norwich last Saturday.

Whelan scored – but then was replaced by Roussel who also found the net. Now Strachan has to decide which to leave out, unless he goes for all out attack.

He said: 

"I know Noel is not fully fit but I know that he can break with the ball and cause teams problems. I have seen him play better than last week but we won the game. You look at the assets of your players and look at the best way to test the opposition defence.

"It was not an easy decision especially when Cedric had done so well against Aston Villa but you have to pick the side that you think will suit the next game.

"I could go with three strikers tomorrow. That is something we might have to do. Sometimes you have to juggle to get your best players on the field. I could see Cedric through the middle and the other two playing off the side of him.

"To do that I have the right players in midfield and we might not have that yet, but it is certainly something I am thinking about."

Strachan’s decision could hang on the fitness of Paul Williams, one of five senior defenders struggling with knee injuries. He came off at Carrow Road but is expected to play even though he failed to train with the squad on Thursday.

If he fails to pass a late fitness test, then Carlton Palmer will stay in the back four, and Whelan could operate just behind Keane and Roussel. Alternatively Strachan could name 20-year-old midfielder John Eustace who looked impressive when he came on at Norwich.

New signing Swede Tomas Gustafsson will be on the bench. The former AIK full back joined the club last week, but too late to play in the cup match at Norwich.

The game starts a tough sequence of fixtures for the Sky Blues who meet Arsenal and Chelsea at home and travel away to Middlesbrough over the festive period – but Strachan is confident after a good first half to the season.

"You have to be brave at Liverpool and wary of what you are doing – you cannot afford to be complacent. You also have to relish the challenge of playing there.

"But Liverpool are not a legendary side, let’s get that right. They are a side playing very well at the moment, an improving side with good players. But we have good players and we are doing all right. We feel we are a hard side to beat when we are at it.

"Fortune favours the brave and we are going there with the aim of getting the three points. If we have to accept one point then fine, but I have never yet gone somewhere to get a draw. It’s not in my mentality."

The Hare and Hounds, Coventry

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Staying Up by Rick Gekoski

CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 17 Dec 99

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