English Premiership

Heskey set for Anfield return

2015-01-23 08:33
Emile Heskey (AP Photo)

Liverpool - Bolton manager Neil Lennon hopes an unlikely return to his former club for veteran striker Emile Heskey can help inspire an FA Cup shock against Liverpool on Saturday.

Heskey will be back at Anfield at the age of 37 after making a playing comeback with Bolton at Christmas.

The former England international was an FA Cup winner with Liverpool in 2001, when his 22 goals also helped Gerard Houllier's side win the League Cup, UEFA Cup and European Super Cup.

Heskey and former Chelsea and Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, 36, are now the elder statesmen of a Bolton side who are 15th in the Championship after Gudjohnsen returned for a second spell with Bolton earlier this season.

And Lennon is looking to the two to roll back the years and inspired a shock win against Liverpool in the fourth round this weekend.

The Northern Irishman - a member of the Celtic side which won a UEFA Cup tie at Anfield in 2003 - said: "Emile Heskey and Eidur Gudjohnsen, who are a big influence in the dressing room, have experience of playing in these big games.

"We are hoping all the old instincts kick back in and they smell it again, being out in that big-game atmosphere.

"Emile has been fantastic since he walked through the door. He had a bit to prove when he came back here and he's doing that.

"There's plenty of football left in him and he's been a big bonus for us."

- Bolton aim to bounce back -

Bolton have pulled themselves away from the Championship relegation places since former Celtic manager Lennon took over in October to reverse a decline that began with relegation from the top flight in 2012.

Lennon, 43, is looking forward to competing again with one of the country's elite but insists his side are not going to Merseyside just for a day out.

"The whole club has got a taste of being back in the big time again, which is fantastic. We see this as a big opportunity to put Bolton back in the picture. These opportunities don't come around too often," he added.

"I don't think you can go to places like Liverpool and sit back all afternoon and admire Liverpool on the ball. We are going to compete and try and cause them problems."

Liverpool have striker Mario Balotelli available again following illness and defender Glenn Johnson is also back after a month out with a groin injury.

Midfielder Joe Allen also returns following a knee problem that has kept him out since mid-December.

However, Reds manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed that striker Daniel Sturridge is not yet fit enough to return as he continues his rehabilitation from a thigh problem that has kept him out since September.

With their injury problems mostly clearing up, Rodgers still hopes to end the season with a first trophy for Liverpool since 2012.

Liverpool are tied at 1-1 with Chelsea in their two-legged League Cup semi-final and Rodgers is also looking to progress in the FA Cup before targeting a potential Premier League title challenge again next season.

Rodgers, whose side finished second in the league last season, said: "This season was always going to be difficult. With so many changes and everything that's happened, we weren't going to challenge for the league this year. That's reality.

"This season has been about getting into the top four, minimising the impact of so many new signings, giving them the time to develop, and then targeting a trophy in the cup competitions. That's very much in our focus now.

"I believe the squad has Premier League-winning capabilities.

"The players can grow together, and if we can get success in a cup competition this year that will give us even greater stimulus to stick together and perform."


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