Liverpool and Villa name squads shy of the permitted 25

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The Independent Online

Liverpool exposed yesterday the lack of depth and experience in their squad by naming just 21 players out of a maximum of 25 for the first half this Premier League season. Among those included by the Merseyside club were the new signing Paul Konchesky and Ryan Babel, whose future at the club had been in doubt.

Roy Hodgson's squad will be relying to some extent on their under-21 players, as will Aston Villa, who named just 22 players and who, in the absence of a manager since Martin O'Neill's departure, have since added only Stephen Ireland as part of the deal which took Gareth Barry to Manchester City. The club have taken the unusual step of naming only two goalkeepers.

Villa, however, can call upon the likes of Marc Albrighton, Nathan Delfouneso, Barry Bannan and Ciaran Clark – all under 21 and all of whom have played for the first team this season – as well as Fabian Delph.

Clubs cannot change their squads – which must include at least eight "home-grown players" – until the beginning of the January transfer window. Unlimited under-21 players can be used though – meaning Manchester City's Mario Balotelli did not have to be part of his club's squad.

The prospect of Owen Hargreaves recovering his football career, after the tendonitis which left it in tatters, were lifted when Sir Alex Ferguson named him in his 25-man Manchester United squad for the first half of the League season.

Ferguson admitted two weeks ago that he had no idea when Hargreaves would return from another period under the care of Colorado-based knee surgeon Dr Richard Steadman and an omission from the squad would have kept him out of the manager's plans until January. The 29-year-old, whose one-minute substitute's appearance for United at Sunderland last season is his only first team football since he underwent double knee surgery in 2008, is in the squad – which suggests that he can be restored to the defensive midfield position for which Ferguson sought him.

There was less happy news for the injured Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate, who was omitted from their squad. The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, recently revealed Woodgate, who has not played since November, was fighting to save his career due to a groin problem. Specialist surgery in both America and Australia has proved unsuccessful and Redknapp believes the player is in danger of having to retire.

The club around whom much squad conjecture resided – Manchester City – shipped out enough of their players through sales and loans to prevent any high-profile names being omitted. Roque Santa Cruz was included, after his deadline-day loan move to Lazio fell through. Fellow striker Felipe Caicedo, whose new loan deal at the Spanish side Levante was announced four hours after the transfer window closed, would not have made the squad.

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