Racist abuse will unite Liverpool players, says Brendan Rodgers

The Reds play Zenit St Petersburg tonight

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The Independent Football

The Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, has insisted any abuse directed at his players by Zenit St Petersburg supporters will galvanise them.

There are fears about trouble at the game in Russia and the Premier League club will brief their players on how to deal with any racist problems. But Rodgers is confident that any attempt to intimidate Liverpool, who have included England international Glen Johnson and teenagers Andre Wisdom and Raheem Sterling in their squad, will backfire.

"Over the last 20-odd years that a lot of work has gone into outside of football to prevent racism," Rodgers said. "I know these are players who want to play and Glen is a very experienced, top international player. It is an issue these young players have experienced in their lives before.

"Obviously they understand and the likes of young Raheem has been through situations like this [in an Under-21 international in Serbia in October]. It is something which will very much unite the players."

Zenit have a long history of racist incidents. They were fined in 2008 after fans threw bananas and made monkey chants during a game with Marseilles and again in 2011 when former Brazil international Roberto Carlos was offered a banana.

However, Rodgers remains hopeful any abuse will be quickly dealt with. He said: "You go into the sporting arena and hopefully everyone from football, Uefa, referees and officials will support any player it may affect."