LIVERPOOL: Liverpool's morale-boosting 3-1 win over Bolton was marred by goalkeeper Chris Kirkland breaking a finger in the latest injury setback to hit the Anfield club.
Kirkland, who is bidding to force his way into England's squad for the Euro 2004 Finals, received treatment from physio Dave Galley during the second half and then an X-ray after the match revealed the full extent of the injury.
It means that Jerzy Dudek, who has been linked with a move away from the club when the transfer window opens next month, will be pressed back into action during the rest of the crucial holiday programme and for the FA Cup tie against Yeovil.
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier said Kirkland was looking at a three to four week lay-off.
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce branded his side capitulation at Anfield as “unacceptable” after substituting three of his star players – Ivan Campo, Youri Djorkaeff and Jay-Jay Okocha – early in the second half.
Allardyce fumed: “It could have been any of the 11. I could have thrown all their names in a hat and pulled out three to take off. It would not have mattered.
“What we saw was an unacceptable performance from the whole side. We have produced some excellent displays recently but this has let us down.
“We did not do enough to find out whether Liverpool's confidence had been affected by what has been going on at Anfield.
“It was an awful performance. We conceded silly goals, we did not mark people and found the smallest players on the pitch heading too goals early in the second half.
“That is what killed us off. We gave Liverpool goals and they gratefully accepted them. They deserved their win but we made it easy for them.”
Houllier was relieved to have seen his side finally lift the gloom around Anfield with goals from Sami Hyypia, Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Vladimir Smicer.
Only Henrik Pedersen could reply for Bolton, and his goal came too late to have any impact on the game.
Houllier said: “Bolton are a good side. They have recently won at Chelsea, drawn with Arsenal and beaten us in the Carling Cup, they were the form team.
“But I could feel a new strength and solidity and you cannot win without that. The defensive play must be strong.
“Everybody was prepared to run the extra yard. They only had one chance in the first half and that situation gave us confidence.”
Houllier added: “You could feel before the game determination. The players, like our fans, were so disappointed by the defeat by Southampton in our last home game and they wanted to put that right.
“We did not panic in the first part of the game when things did not go so well. We kept our cool, our composure and got ourselves into a good position. “We must now take this forward into the next game. If we win our game in hand now we will be in fourth place. That is how we must look at it.” – AFP