Jose Enrique says early exit from Europa League would be a major blow for Liverpool

Liverpool need result against Udinese

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique insists the Europa League is a competition worth fighting for and an early exit would be a major blow.

A draw against Udinese at the Stadio Friuli tonight could be enough to see the Reds advance to the last 32, should it match Young Boys' result at home to Anzhi.

Defeat, however, would send Liverpool out regardless of what the Swiss team do.

And while critics of the competition have suggested Liverpool, currently 11th in the Barclays Premier League, could do without the distraction of European football, Enrique disagrees.

"I want to play in the Europa League. It is not a 'funny' competition - it is a privilege and in my opinion everyone wants to play," he told Press Association Sport.

"That is why we have brought a strong squad because we want to be in the next stage.

"It is not the Champions League - that is the best thing and there is no comparison - but it is another competition and another title you can win.

"For the players and fans it is another cup to play and, if you have the chance to win, why not try?

"I think the Champions League is where Liverpool have to be but it is in Europe against teams like Udinese. Liverpool have to be there, in Europe."

Manager Brendan Rodgers feels the same and has the bonus of being able to play leading scorer Luis Suarez in his first European away game against the already-eliminated Italian side as he is suspended for Sunday's trip to West Ham.

Only captain Steven Gerrard (illness) and defenders Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger (rested) have been left behind as the Northern Irishman looks to secure their place in the knockout phase.

"To not have Steven Gerrard here certainly weakens you because he is a world-class player, but it is unfortunate because he is ill and it is too much of a risk for him to travel," Rodgers said.

"It is just about making sure he is okay for the weekend.

"It is important we don't rely on one player and this is about the team and that is what we will rely on (tonight).

"But Luis is a world-class striker and when you have a world-class operator in your team it certainly makes you a better side.

"He would have liked to have played in more of these games but I've been trying to manage the group and give others an opportunity.

"It is a great game for him to showcase all his qualities."

PA

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.

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
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