Andy Carroll has cut a frustrated figure at Anfield this season. Unable to command a first-team place, the Liverpool striker has struggled to impress in the limited playing time he has managed. But former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby believes the club's record signing could have played his way into the starting line-up for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final clash against Everton.
The 23-year-old has started just 13 Premier League games all season but has demonstrated a marked improvement in recent weeks, scoring the injury-time winner in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers.
And Molby, who won two FA Cups during his time at Liverpool, insists a buoyant Carroll could prove decisive when the two Merseyside teams travel to Wembley this weekend.
"Football is all about confidence and Carroll will surely take a lot from Tuesday," Molby told the Liverpool Echo. "Whoever the manager picks alongside Luis Suarez will be really interesting.
"Liverpool have to take some precautions about how Everton play and set-pieces is a big, big part of their game. And so would you want Andy Carroll in the box defending them? You probably would.
Saturday's clash between the two sides holds a special resonance for the city of Liverpool, beyond the chance to appear in the final of English football's oldest tournament on 5 May. The 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough falls on Sunday and the Anfield club received special dispensation not to play on the 15th.
The last time these two neighbours met at Wembley was also in 1989, just 35 days after the disaster that claimed 96 lives, and former Liverpool stars John Barnes and Steve Nicol spoke of the emotional impact the tragedy played that day.
Both provided assists as goals from John Aldridge and two from Ian Rush fired Kenny Dalglish's side to a dramatic 3-2 victory. And Barnes warned Dalglish not to underestimate David Moyes' side this time around.
"It doesn't matter who is playing well or which team is in form," the former Liverpool midfielder told the Liverpool Echo. "It's a one-off game - a derby with a difference as it's a Cup semi-final at Wembley."
The Blues head into the 218th Merseyside derby as favourites, after winning four of their last five matches including a 4-0 demolition of Sunderland on Monday. January signing Nikica Jelavic has scored five goals since joining from Glasgow Rangers and Nicol believes the Croatian striker could give them the edge.
"There hasn't been much to be confident about recently. But it's a semi-final and that does change things," he said. "I do think Liverpool have some sort of psychological edge over Everton. [But] looking at the form book, Everton have to be favourites.
He added: "Everton are on such a good run. And in that sense the signing of Jelavic has been huge for them."