Brendan Rodgers has 'best interests' of Liverpool in mind with plans to field reserve side in Europa League

 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he is trying to protect the club's Barclays Premier League season by fielding a virtual reserve side in Europe.

The Reds have had their worst start to a campaign in 100 years with just two points from their opening four matches and it does not get any easier with arch-rivals Manchester United heading to Anfield on Sunday.

As a result captain Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Jose Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly have all been left behind for tomorrow's Europa League clash with Swiss side Young Boys.

It means the likes of Samed Yesil, Suso, Andre Wisdom, Conor Coady, Adam Morgan, Jack Robinson and Dani Pacheco have all been included in the Europa League squad - which has an average age of just 21 and includes seven teenagers.

"I can understand why people would perceive us as not taking it seriously but I will always do what is in the best interests of the football club," said Rodgers.

"There is no doubt the Premier League is our number one priority, I've made that clear from the off with the position with our squad.

"I look at Real Madrid v Manchester City last night and Samir Nasri came off with an injury but they have a massive squad who can accommodate that.

"If I lose some of my key players that can make it very difficult for us for the next two or three months.

"There were parts of the game against Arsenal (after their Europa League play-off last month) where we were a bit leggy so we have to make sure we are all firing for Sunday.

"No matter what the perception is I know in my own mind I've brought a team here which has a mixture of experience and talented young players.

"I am fully aware that when you pull on a Liverpool shirt you are expected to win the games so I've brought a team I believe can win the game."

Rodgers is effectively gambling with the Europa League in an attempt to safeguard Liverpool's league form, a decision brought about more out of necessity than design.

The Northern Irishman's summer recruitment was not extensive and so he does not have that many options and their difficult start to the season has compounded matters.

It means he is putting faith in the likes of players who have been in the youth and reserve set-up for a while without having forced themselves into the first team.

However, Rodgers remains confident they can do a job for him alongside the more senior players.

"You never actually know about young players until you actually put them in this situation but we have a good mixture as well," he added.

"We have experienced international players and some very talented youngsters so I'm very much looking forward to the game.

"I've brought young players who I feel, from what I've seen in the early part of the season, can come in and contribute."

While the youngsters are just looking for a chance to earn a longer stay in the squad Rodgers insists some of the more senior players can still stake a claim for Sunday's clash against United.

He accepts, however, it is more about keeping them sharp enough to be able to slot in when needed.

"Brad Jones will play tomorrow. He has been first class. He hasn't had a look in at all this season but he has come in and worked well," he said.

"Guys like Jamie Carragher have been phenomenal. To see how he works and his passion to play for Liverpool is really encouraging and he is a great role model for players here.

"They are going to be up to speed in terms of games as the Europa League gives them chance to play.

"Boys like Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing have all been working hard in training and they will get minutes under their belts so if they are required to play they will be up to speed.

"Nuri Sahin needs games to get up to speed and they all need to keep ticking over because they're important players.

"There is no question why they can't be involved at the weekend.

"The idea is for the squad to be small as it keeps players who are just on the outside the motivation that they still have an opportunity."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks