Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Brendan Rodgers: I'd love to take Liverpool to Windsor Park

Head boy:  Liverpool's Belfast-born defender Ryan McLaughlin  makes a headed clearance during last night's game in Dublin
Head boy: Liverpool's Belfast-born defender Ryan McLaughlin makes a headed clearance during last night's game in Dublin

Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he would love to bring his Liverpool side to play at the new Windsor Park.

Following on from the success of last night in Dublin at the Aviva stadium, where 42,517 fans turned up to watch an end of season 4-0 friendly victory against Shamrock Rovers, Ulsterman Rodgers has admitted he would relish a game for the Reds north of the border in Belfast.

"It would be great to do that," the Carnlough native told the Belfast Telegraph after the match.

"You saw tonight the crowd that turned up and it shows the support we have throughout Ireland, north and south.

"I remember when we came to Dublin in pre-season and played Celtic.

"I thought the fans might be split that day but it was mostly Liverpool.

"This club continues to amaze me with regard to the levels of support that we have and we really appreciate the fans we have here. I'd like to thank everyone for coming out to support us.

"And in the future I would like to keep bringing the team over here, be that to Windsor Park or to the Aviva again."

When Windsor is completed late next year, the capacity will be 18,000 and while commercial opportunities and revenue would obviously not be as great as staging a friendly at the much larger Aviva, where there is a will there should be a way.

The Irish FA ought to make a point of inviting Liverpool and indeed other major English clubs such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea to play at the new stadium.

United played at Windsor for Harry Gregg's testimonial in 2012 just days after losing the Premier League title to Manchester City on goal difference and then Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson paid due respect to the fixture by fielding his star performers.

Rodgers too would show that same respect and play his strongest side at Windsor if a game could be arranged.

Last night the county Antrim man was without all of his World Cup bound stars including Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, but he made a point of bringing over Daniel Agger, Philippe Coutinho and Martin Skrtel, even though they were carrying knocks and were unable to play.

The only regular first teamers in the line-up were Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen.

Fabio Borini, back from a loan spell at Sunderland, and young Belfast born defender Ryan McLaughlin were also in the youthful starting XI.

It was evident, though, who the fans felt was the real star of the show when the names of the Liverpool squad were read out over the public address system with Rodgers receiving the biggest cheer.

The visitors wore their new bright yellow away kit for the first time but their defence certainly didn't dazzle in the first half.

The back four, including McLaughlin, appeared to be on holiday mode.

Had Shamrock Rovers been more clinical and a little more fortunate when Ryan Brennan hit the post, they could easily have scored.

Liverpool broke the deadlock early on through Iago Aspas after a surging run from the quicksilver Jordan Ibe but it was only after the break when their class began to tell with Ibe cleverly setting up Borini to double the visitors' lead.

Ibe could have had a brace himself but missed two open goals before defender Martin Kelly netted number three and young substitute Jack Dunn concluded the scoring.

Rodgers wanted his side to put on a show for the people who had paid good money and the longer the game wore on they certainly did that.

The Liverpool boss spoke about how impressed he was by Ibe, joking that 'he would have to improve his finishing' and also intimated that there is still a future at the club for Borini, following his outstanding loan spell with Sunderland.

While not wishing to comment directly about a move for Southampton's Adam Lallana, it is clear he is a big admirer of the player.

Don't be a surprised if a deal is completed soon. Others will follow.

Rodgers may be about to go on holiday, but he is determined to build on the second place finish in the Premier League and go one better next season.

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