Hodgson puts faith in fringe men

Roy Hodgson has insisted that those younger and fringe players who will feature in tonight's Europa League match away to Steaua Bucharest are not necessarily playing for their Anfield futures. Injuries and rotation will deprive Liverpool of much of their usual spine but Hodgson has said that it would be "too much to ask" were he to tie players' futures to their performances in Romania.

Jamie Carragher, who dislocated his shoulder at White Hart Lane last Sunday, has joined Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger on the sidelines while Hodgson has decided to rest some of his remaining regulars, including Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez, Raul Meireles and Glen Johnson.

This will allow Hodgson to field a team of fringe and younger players at the Stadionul Steaua. Ryan Babel and Milan Jovanovic may well start, as might youngsters Danny Wilson and Martin Kelly. Joe Cole has recovered from a hamstring injury and will make his first start for five weeks. But Hodgson made it clear that these players will not be playing for their futures.

"It would be too much to ask. I don't think it would be fair," Hodgson said. "I think if you are going to be judged in that way you need to be playing with a large number of the more established players. I don't think it is correct to judge people too much when many of them are playing together and are obviously fairly inexperienced at this level."

Hodgson likes what he has seen of Liverpool's emerging players in Europe and hopes to see more of the same tonight. "In the couple of games so far, away at Utrecht and Napoli, they have not let me, the club or the fans down and I hope they will continue to do that in another difficult game tomorrow," he said.

Liverpool are unbeaten in the group stage after four games and know that a win in Bucharest will ensure that they win Group K, thereby guaranteeing their seeding for the round of 32. Liverpool can even win the group tonight without beating Bucharest, providing they draw and Utrecht do not beat Napoli. Mere qualification is just one point away, a target Hodgson is confident of achieving.

"It would be nice if we could get the point tomorrow but if not we will have to put our eggs into the basket of playing Utrecht at home," he said.

Liverpool (probable; 4-4-2): Reina; Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Wilson; Cole, Lucas, Poulsen, Jovanovic; Babel, N'Gog.

Group K

Results so far Liverpool 4 Steaua Bucharest 1, Napoli 0 Utrecht 0; Steaua Bucharest 3 Napoli 3, Utrecht 0 Liverpool 0; Napoli 0 Liverpool 0, Utrecht 1 Steaua Bucharest 1; Steaua Bucharest 3 Utrecht 1, Liverpool 3 Napoli 1.

Remaining fixtures Tonight: Steaua v Liverpool, Utrecht v Napoli. 15 Dec Napoli v Steaua; Liverpool v Utrecht.

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before