Hearts boosted as Enckelman cleared for Liverpool clash
Hearts yesterday received a boost ahead of tomorrow’s glamour clash with Liverpool when they received clearance to include new signing Peter Enckelman in the eagerly-awaited Europa League tie.
Enckelman was recruited on Friday on a short-term deal after back-up goalkeeper Mark Ridgers sustained a serious knee injury playing for Scotland under-21s against Belgium last week.
With question marks over Jamie MacDonald’s short-term availability as he awaits the imminent birth of his first child, manager John McGlynn moved to snap up the experienced former Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers No 1 to solve a crisis that threatened to leave him with just 18-year-old Jack Hamilton between the sticks.
With Enckelman having been signed beyond the 8 August deadline for Hearts to have submitted their squad list to Uefa, a measure of uncertainty still surrounded the former Finland internationalist for the visit of Liverpool.
However, with the governing body leaving room for the late registration of one player up until midnight on the day before the first-leg match, the Gorgie outfit yesterday received confirmation that the 35-year-old can play against the Reds if required.
Enckelman, who was on the bench for Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Inverness Caledonian Thistle, said: “I’m always ready to step in. One of the good things about being slightly older is you’ve got the experience behind you which comes into play in these situations. I look forward to being part of the set-up here and seeing what the season brings.”
Meanwhile, Ridgers should be back in action in November after doctors told him he does not need an operation on his injured knee.
The 22-year-old damaged his posterior cruciate ligament playing at East End Park last Tuesday and was told to expect at least three months on the sidelines.
The former Ross County trainee visited a specialist on Monday amid fears his recovery could take even longer if surgery was required.
However, the Inverness-born youngster was given good news after scans indicated he does not need to go under the knife.
Reacting to the news online, Ridgers said: “Delighted I don’t need an op and it’s just the three months and not longer. Now for the hard work and on the road to recovery. #PMA [positive mental attitude]”.
With 12 weeks of rehabilitation ahead, McGlynn is optimistic everything goes according to plan.
He said: “It’s a bonus for the lad that he doesn’t require surgery. It’s a bad enough injury without the need for an operation.
“So, that’s good news for everyone. Hopefully his recovery goes well and to the timescale set by the experts.”
Liverpool go into tomorrow night’s game on the back of a disappointing 3-0 defeat by West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season. Anfield legend Graeme Souness believes his old team are not the force they used to be, but insists Liverpool will still be way too strong for Hearts.
“There is a gulf between the Premier League in England and the SPL in Scotland right now,” explained Souness.
“Although Liverpool are not one of the great teams any more, they certainly still have some good players. And they have one truly great player in Steven Gerrard – he would get into any Liverpool team of the past. If Gerrard plays, he’s the one you have to concentrate on. Keep him as far away from goal as possible. Andy Carroll can be unplayable if he gets the right sort of service. There are so many threats, maybe just too many.
“It’s not just Hearts. If Liverpool were playing any team in Scotland now, it would be the same. It’ll be a different Liverpool to last year, but it’ll still be a very strong Liverpool. Like any Scottish club playing a team from the Premier League, Hearts have it all to do.
“Although Liverpool aren’t the force they were and are just behind some of the teams down here, they’re still arguably the second biggest club in England. They’re still an enormous club on the world stage, so you have to respect their fantastic European pedigree.
“Hearts have always an outside chance over two games. They are underdogs, though, and realistically you have to fancy Liverpool because of the quality of player they have.
“You’re relying on lots of them having two off nights for Hearts to go through.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
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