Two questions for you, a soccer aficionado. What do the following sets of players have in common?

  • First set: Salomon Kalou, Gael Kakuta, Yossi Benayoun, Asamoah Gyan, Kieran Richardson, Anton Ferdinand and Kieran Gibbs.
  • Second set: Mendoza Marcos Alonso, Moreno Machado Rodrigo, Jan Mucha, Magaye Gueye, Ben Mee, Javan Vidal, John Guidetti, Jake Livermore, Steven Caulker, Thomas Ince, Nathan Eccleston, Jonjo Shelvey, Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Bruma.

If you answered that the first set were players were injured in this mid-week’s Carling Cup games, give yourself one point. And if you answered that the second set of players were some of the relatively unknown footballers who played for Premier League clubs in the Carling Cup this week, pat yourself on the back. The second set of footballers played this mid-week for clubs including Bolton, Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea — all clubs who were knocked out of the Cup. But based on the player’s names, you may be in the same boat as me of never seeing them play yet for their respective club teams.

This all makes me wonder whether it’s worth paying attention to the Carling Cup. Key players get injured, as listed above. And while it’s refreshing to see reserve and youth players given a chance, how serious are the Premier League clubs about advancing in the tournament if they field their second string?

If clubs don’t care much about the Carling Cup, why should supporters?