A JERSEY HANGER in Liverpool’s dressing room at Wembley on Saturday will be adorned with an extra large goalkeeper’s garb bearing the number 42.
Following red cards and suspensions to Pepe Reina and Alexander Doni, the Liverpool goalkeeping duties for their FA Cup semi-final will fall to Australian Brad Jones and Hungarian Peter Gulacsi.
Jones made his debut for the Anfield club in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Blackburn and had an eventful evening.
The former Middlesborough, and Shelbourne, ‘keeper saved a Yakubu penalty with his first touch and conceding one to the striker in the second-half.
While Jones, holder of the number 1 jersey, is expected to start at Wembley, manager Kenny Dalglish has recalled Gulacsi from his loan spell at Hull City.
The 21-year-old was signed from MTK Budapest in 2008 but has yet to feature for Liverpool. The principal road-block to first-team action has been Reina, who recorded 183 consecutive league starts before his red card against Newcastle.
From Hereford to Wembley
Gulacsi was loaned out to Hereford and Tranmere in previous seasons and featured 15 times for Hull City in the Championship this season; conceding 18 goals in the process.
He started the season as the Tiger’s first choice ‘keeper and kept a clean-sheet against Ipswich in his second game. A 4-1 defeat to Leeds saw him dropped in favour of Adriano Basso for most of September and October.
A injury to Basso in November opened the door to the 6 foot 3 Hungarian and he was a key player in a four-game winning streak under new coach Nicky Barmby.
He was injured in a 1-0 defeat to Burnley in December and lost his place to Basso before Hull signed up Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone for the remainder of the season.
The semi-final will not be the first time Gulacsi has donned his gloves as substitute for Liverpool. He was previously on the bench for the club’s Europa Cup games against Rabotnicki and Trabzonspor.
He got ahead of Jones in the goalkeeping pecking order at the end of last season and featured as substitute in several Premier League matches, including a win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Carragher keeps the faith
Gulacsi was the third MTK Budapest player signed by Liverpool between 2007 and 2008. The other two, Andras Simon and Kristian Nemeth, never featured for the club before being moved on.
Jones and Gulacsi were given a less than glowing endorsement by defender Jamie Carragher, who told BBC Sport:
I think losing Pepe was the blow if you like. Whether your third-choice or second-choice keeper plays, I don’t think there’s that much difference between them really.
Former Tranmere manager, Les Parry gave fourth-choice Gulacsi a better reference when he declared the 21-year-old was ‘a good shot-stopper and sweeps up well’.