Belfast Telegraph

Home Tablet Sport

Liverpool's shadow XI will still draw the crowds to Dublin for Shamrock Rovers friendly

By Daniel McDonnell

The World Cup-bound stars like Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard may be absent and there won't be a trophy to parade either, but it's still anticipated that Liverpool's visit to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this evening for a friendly with Shamrock Rovers will draw a bigger turnout than Ireland's next outing at the venue.

Martin O'Neill's paymasters would be thrilled if over 40,000 punters turned out for Sunday's week meeting with Turkey in Dublin 4.

However, a strong advance sale to watch Brendan Rodgers' side in action will mean that this unusually timed exhibition should draw a larger crowd, even if a limp finish to the league season and the absence of some marquee names have dashed hopes of a sell-out.

For the Rovers squad, it's a rare opportunity to sample the Aviva experience.

"Our group doesn't have any World Cup lads in it, so we'll all be there anyway," joked striker Ciaran Kilduff yesterday.

There are no survivors from the Hoops squad which played at the venue in 2010 in the FAI Cup final so, while a handful have experience with other clubs or with the Airtricity League XI, there's a huge novelty value to this test.

Similar to supporters, they are eager for information from Liverpool on the calibre of the travelling party.

Imminent commitments in Brazil rule out established stars such as Suarez, Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Simon Mignolet and Glen Johnson. The FAI, who have a role in this game and hosted last year's Dublin Decider, didn't fully know who was part of the Reds squad until they landed on that occasion.

Rodgers' team will only fly in today and depart afterwards and it is expected that Philippe Coutinho – who missed out on the Brazil squad – Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel will be the most recognisable members of the group.

For Kilduff, a Liverpool fan, the opportunity to rub shoulders with some elite players will be a buzz. It has special resonance for the striker because he picked up his love for the Anfield club through his father Kevin, who has been in hospital for the last fortnight due to heart issues, but got the all-clear on the eve of the game.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph