Hodgson will select Reds' big names for knockout ties

  • @GlennMoore7

Fernando Torres was controversially omitted from Liverpool's Europa League team in midweek but he and Steven Gerrard will be featuring in the competition from now on, said Roy Hodgson yesterday.

Hodgson, who reached the final with Fulham last season, said, "We're at the knockout stage now and it will be important to put out our best team every time if we want to go further in the competition."

Liverpool meet Sparta Prague in the last 32 with either Poland's Lech Poznan, or Portugal's Braga, barring the way to the quarter-finals should they progress. "I think it's a very good draw," said Hodgson, citing the ease of travelling and scouting opponents.

Prague include Marek Matejovsky, who once scored a stunning goal for Reading at Anfield, and the former West Ham United defender Tomas Repka, now dismissed 17 times in his career.

Manchester City face a more demanding schedule with Greek club Aris Thessalonkiki their last-32 opponents, followed by a potential trip to either Ukraine, to play Dynamo Kiev, or Turkey's Besiktas. The latter was the venue of violent clashes between supporters at a Turkish league match recently which required the use of police baton charges and tear gas to break up.

First City must defeat Aris, who knocked the holders Atletico Madrid out in the group stages and are managed by Hector Cuper, the hottest managerial talent in the game a decade ago.

City's football administrator Brian Marwood said: "It's two former Inter Milan coaches going head to head and I'm looking forward to it. It will be a difficult period, I think we play Manchester United before the away trip, but as we get close we will prepare accordingly.

Rangers, Scotland's remaining European representatives, have a tricky draw against Sporting Lisbon, with Lille or PSV Eindhoven their putative opponents in the next round.

Draw Details

Round of 32

*Napoli v Villarreal, Rangers v Sporting, Sparta Prague v Liverpool, Anderlecht v Ajax, Lech Poznan v Braga, Besiktas v Dynamo Kiev, Basle v Spartak Moscow, Young Boys v Zenit St Petersburg, Aris Thessaloniki v Manchester City, PAOK v CSKA Moscow, Seville v Porto, Rubin Kazan v FC Twente, Lille v PSV, Benfica v Stuttgart, BATE Borisov v Paris St Germain, M Kharkiv v B Leverkusen

Ties take place 17 & 24 February

Selected round of 16 ties

*Besiktas/Dynamo Kiev v Salonika/Man City, Lille/PSV Eindhoven v Rangers/Sporting, Sparta Prague/Liverpool v Lech Poznan/Braga

Ties take place 10 & 17 March