Andy Carroll
Liverpool's Andy Carroll has scored two goals in 18 games this season. REUTERS Reuters

Liverpool legend Steve McManaman believes the return of Steven Gerrard will help kick-start Andy Carroll's Anfield career, starting with Friday's FA Cup third round clash with Oldham at Anfield.

Carroll and Gerrard are both in line to start tonight's match against the League 1 opponents, after the pair linked up well towards the end of the recent 3-1 win over Newcastle.

And McManaman remains adamant a fully-fit Gerrard could unlock the full potential of Liverpool's record £35m-signing.

"If Carroll and Gerrard both play against Oldham, as I would hope, I think Andy will do well, because Stevie is the king of assists," he told Liverpool's official Web site.

"Liverpool have missed his passes, which unlock tight games. They have missed his set-piece delivery... and nobody has missed him more than Carroll.

"Gerrard will help him a lot. In the same way that he helped Fernando Torres a lot."

In the absence of the suspended Luis Suarez, Carroll failed to convince in Monday's 3-0 defeat by Manchester City. And even Gerrard, slowly regaining match fitness after two months on the side-lines, failed to inspire a turnaround in Carroll's fortunes when he joined the action for the last half-hour.

However, former Real Madrid star McManaman insists the much-maligned Liverpool forward will be a player transformed when Gerrard is fit enough to play on a regular basis.

"His [Gerrard's] ability to deliver telling passes and crosses at the feet of Liverpool's strikers has been arguably their greatest strength for a decade now.

"With Suarez out of the picture for a month, hopefully Carroll will get a run of games in the side to find that consistency.

"Carroll only needs one to go in off his backside, or a hat-trick against lower-division opposition in the Cup, and he could be flying."

Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish looks set to give a number of peripheral Liverpool players a run out at Anfield tonight.

The Scot, who celebrates the one-year anniversary of his Liverpool-return on Sunday, said he would not undercut England's premier cup competition by fielding an understrength side.

"The FA Cup has been undermined in many ways and in many quarters, for varying reasons. But we certainly won't ever undermine it.

"It's a competition that's there to be won so we'll go into the Oldham game with the same attitude and desire as we went into the Carling Cup. The Carling Cup is something people have done the same with - undermined and undervalued. But we went about our job as well as we possibly could and we've got our reward for that."