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Liverpool will wheel out the star names for Euro push

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has pledged to field his strongest team when their Europa League campaign resumes in February against Sparta Prague in the last 32.

The Reds boss was grateful to avoid long-distance trips in yesterday's draw, which set up a potential last-16 encounter against Poland's Lech Poznan or Braga of Portugal.

And having rested many of his big names in the group stage, Hodgson now accepts he cannot afford to leave out the likes of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres when they return to European action after a two-month winter break.

“By that stage of the season we'll be playing three matches a week and I won't have the luxury I have had so far of sometimes sparing players in the Europa League, campaign,” he said.

“We're at the knockout stage now so I won't have that option because it will be important to put out our best team every time if we want to go further in the competition.

“I think it's a very good draw. There are a lot of good teams in the competition, even the unseeded sides.

“A lot of those teams are from the far end of Europe in places which are difficult to get to and about which you would find it difficult to get a lot of information.

“Sparta Prague are a team everyone knows well.

“Prague is a very reachable city and the team will be easier to scout and easier to find information about than the Rubin Kazans and Kharkivs of the draw.

“I always think it's better to be in the central part of Europe because the travelling is easier, it takes less time and maybe as a result takes less out of the players.”

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