LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 23: Joe Cole of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's fifth goal with team mate Jamie Carragher during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Birmingham City at Anfield on April 23, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Liverpool today released the full squad for their North American pre-season tour while they prepare to depart for their Harvard practice grounds late on Monday afternoon. Pepe Reina will miss the tour entirely after watching Spain defend the European Championship from the best seats in the house, while England representatives Andy Carroll, Glen Johnson, and Steven Gerrard won't join up until next Monday. Meanwhile, Craig Bellamy, Sebastian Coates, and Luis Suarez are away for the London Olympics.
Liverpool North American Tour Squad:
Charlie Adam, Daniel Agger, Alberto Aquilani, Jamie Carragher, Joe Cole, Jon Flanagan, Adam Morgan, Stephen Sama, Brad Smith, Suso, Andy Carroll, Peter Gulacsi, Brad Jones, Glen Johnson, Daniel Pacheco, Lucas Leiva, Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Jonjo Shelvey, Martin Skrtel, Jay Spearing, Raheem Sterling, Danny Wilson, Martin Kelly, Krisztian Adorjan, Fabio Borini, Nathan Eccleston, Jordon Ibe, Ryan McLaughlin, Andre Wisdom, Danny Ward, Jack Robinson
Other than the four players who will completely miss the tour, though, the thirty-four included names on Brendan Rodgers' pre-season squad represent something that, barring a sudden late flurry of activity on the transfer market, is likely very close to the list of players he will have to choose from in the coming season. It's a squad that still retains a solid core—one still almost entirely made up of players remaining from Rafa Benitez' last team—but that on paper at least appears weaker than any Liverpool side in recent memory, with the departures of Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez seeming even more significant after a quick scan through the list of who remains.
There may still be a strong core, but there's little proven depth that remains, and as it stands it's hard to imagine it a squad capable of making it back into the top four—and even more difficult to imagine it's capable of competing effectively in sixty-odd games across four competitions. So far this summer Liverpool have continued to trim the wage bill while rumours swirl about further departures and the manager talks about not having a great deal of money to spend on new players. Faced now with a list of the players going along on the North American pre-season tour—a list of the of the players who will be largely responsible for any success in the coming season—none of it adds up to anything especially encouraging at a time when Liverpool fans are typically buoyed by sky-high dreams of trophies and challenges.
Now, instead of wondering if this is the year Liverpool can again make a legitimate run at the league title, it seems to be more a case of wondering whether Joe Cole can at 30 years old re-discover something of the player he was at 24 or if Stewart Downing can score even one goal or assist in the league in the coming season. Either that or hoping a handful of the kids can lay claim to futures where they're considered amongst the best in world football.