Football in Brief: Hodgson focused on keeping stars

Roy Hodgson has admitted that his main task is to keep the Liverpool squad together until new owners take over the club and give him money to spend on new players.

Liverpool's future ownership is as uncertain as ever after a fortnight of intense activity last month failed to see a proper bid materialise. Hodgson's main aim has been to avoid having to rebuild the squad completely.

He said yesterday: "The club is up for sale and nobody knows what direction it will take if and when new owners are found. A few years ago, the money to buy new players was available. I hope the situation will change when the club is eventually sold and owners who are prepared to invest in the club come in.

"When that situation arises I'm pretty sure that it won't be difficult for us to start achieving things again but at the moment the task is really to hang on to the players we've got."

A more immediate problem for Hodgson emerged yesterday when Dirk Kuyt was sent home from international duty after being ruled out of the Netherlabnds' qualifier with Finland with a shoulder problem. The 30-year-old sustained the injury in training yesterday and coach Bert van Marwijk believes it could sideline the player for some time. "I think he might be out for a few weeks," the Holland manager said.

Bebe available for United in Europe

Bebe has been included in Manchester United's Champions League squad after all. United submitted their list of 25 players to Uefa last week, with Owen Hargreaves among those excluded. It seemed Bebe had been left out too, which only intensified interest in a player who featured last season in Portuguese football's third tier, but cost United £7m.

However, Uefa has now confirmed the 20-year-old is on the list and will be available for next week's opener against Rangers at Old Trafford. A more likely debut would be in the Carling Cup tie at Scunthorpe the following week.

Stoke City

Ryan Shawcross has hit back at Arsène Wenger's claim that he plays "rugby". The Arsenal manager said the defender – whom he criticised for a leg-breaking challenge on Aaron Ramsey last season – kicked the Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes in their recent game. "Mr Wenger's obviously got something against me," said Shawcross. "He always seems to have a problem with Stoke, our manager and certain players."

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