Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Reds stars set for rest

Roy Hodgson
Roy Hodgson

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson will leave out some big names for the Europa League trip to face Napoli as he has one eye on an increasingly-important Barclays Premier League match against Blackburn this weekend.

The likes of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are expected to remain on Merseyside when the squad flies out to Naples later as Hodgson prioritises domestic affairs following the Reds' disastrous start to the season. Glenn Johnson (hamstring) and Daniel Agger (illness) will also be missing.

"I'll leave some players out - that's for sure," said Hodgson. "Some of the more important senior players won't travel because their participation on Sunday is going to be so important to us."

He continued: "It's not just a question of playing three matches in a week it's also a question of injury. I don't think our squad is so strong that I can afford to risk them.

"But it'll still be a strong team we put out there and I think it's a chance for some players who have been on the fringes, like David Ngog and others like Ryan Babel who has had very few chances.

"It's yet another opportunity for these players to blast their way into the team and force me to look at them in a different light, to make sure they are players that are first on the list and not down the pecking order."

On the current injury problems, Hodgson added: "After being injured, Agger is now sick, so he has ruled himself out.

"Dirk Kuyt has a wicked ankle injury. Everyone tells me it looks worse than it really is and I certainly hope that is the case because it does not look good. It is still very badly swollen.

"Christian Poulsen has recovered and is okay.

"Glen Johnson is still out injured but I would hope he would be back in training when we return on Friday - so he's not ruled out for Sunday but is for Thursday."

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