Liverpool take opportunity to rest key players for Hearts

 

Liverpool have omitted a host of first team players, including Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, for tonight's Europa League qualifying play-off first leg at Heart of Midlothian.

Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson will also sit out the game as part of Liverpool's policy of squad rotation to balance the demands of domestic and European competition.

Also missing from the squad is the left-back Jose Enrique, who missed Saturday's defeat at West Bromwich Albion with a knee injury, and Joe Cole, who came off injured at The Hawthorns.

The assistant manager Colin Pascoe said the club's policy of resting key players during the European campaign would be maintained should they progress further.

"You have to rotate the players because you play on a Saturday, then a Thursday and a Sunday, so it's an opportunity for all the players to perform. One minute you are in the Europa League, the next we play Manchester City, then it's the second leg against Hearts followed by Arsenal."

For Hearts, the former Aston Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman (left) is likely to make his debut after Jamie MacDonald's pregnant partner was admitted to hospital. John McGlynn, the manager, said: "I got a text from Jamie. His partner is in the hospital and has been since four o'clock this morning but there is no baby yet. We just need to see, when the baby does arrive, how Jamie is feeling."

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