Gerrard and Torres to miss Liverpool play-off

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Liverpool will be without captain Steven Gerrard and striker Fernando Torres for their Europa League play-off second leg against Trabzonspor in Turkey tomorrow.

Gerrard has a back problem while manager Roy Hodgson has decided not to risk Torres in a third successive game following his injury problems last season.

However, both are expected to be fit for Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with West Brom.

"Steven Gerrard unfortunately has had a recurrence of the back problem which he gets from time to time," said Hodgson.

"Hopefully it won't stop him playing on Sunday.

"With Fernando Torres we've made the decision that we don't wish to risk him three games in a row at this stage of the season with him having done so well to get back this quickly."

Wantaway midfielder Javier Mascherano was again omitted from the squad which travelled to Turkey this morning with a 1-0 lead from the first leg, while defender Daniel Agger (concussion) and Maxi Rodriguez (illness) were also missing.

"Agger played in the game on Monday (the 3-0 defeat to Manchester City) which was to some extent against medical advice," said Hodgson.

"He wanted to play but felt a bit sick after the game. That's mainly due to the concussion he suffered (against Arsenal), so it would be foolish for us to risk him.

"Maxi is sick. He's in bed at the moment with a bit of gastroenteritis, so he's out of the question."

Hodgson admits his side face a tough challenge against Trabzonspor after failing to put the match beyond reach at Anfield last week, with Joe Cole missing a penalty.

"We missed a golden opportunity to kill the game off at Anfield and now we've got it all to do," added the 62-year-old.

"It's going to be a very tough ask for the players in a difficult place.

"They are one of the two or three best teams in Turkey at the moment and Turkish football is of a very high standard.

"Everyone who's been to Trabzon tells me it's a remarkably difficult place to play.

"They're a hostile and fanatic crowd and it's a difficult pitch.

"But if we come through it we'll come through it stronger."

Liverpool's injury issues highlight the frailties in Hodgson's squad, which could become even more pronounced if Mascherano leaves the club, as is widely expected.

The club are awaiting an improved bid from Barcelona for the combative midfielder after the Catalans' opening offer of £16million was rejected out of hand.

It seems unthinkable the Argentina captain, left out of Monday night's squad to face Manchester City, will remain at the club and reports in Spain suggest he has already agreed personal terms with the Primera Division champions.

However, even if Barcelona come up with an acceptable offer - thought to be around £25million - before the transfer window closes Hodgson does not want to waste the available money he has by rushing into some ill-advised last-minute buys.

The 62-year-old was keen to add to his squad even before the Mascherano situation developed, but has already stressed he is working to the budget given to him at the start of the season.

"I think we can probably augment our squad if we wanted to," he said.

"The possibility is there. We have financial restrictions but if I find the right player it would be a possibility.

"But the big question is to find the right player because I certainly don't want to be acting through panic, I want to be sure the player I sign is the right one."

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