Liverpool focused on Europa League despite looming Merseyside derby insists assistant Colin Pascoe

 

Liverpool assistant boss Colin Pascoe insists the club's players are fully focused on tomorrow's Europa League clash with Anzhi Makhachkala and that they will not be distracted by thoughts of the Merseyside derby.

The Reds make the short trip to Goodison Park on Sunday to face local rivals Everton knowing they will fall nine points behind the Toffees in the Barclays Premier League if they lose.

Before then, though, there is a European assignment to be tackled with the visit to Anfield of Anzhi, the Russian outfit currently leading Group A after two rounds of fixtures.

Liverpool are third, and having been beaten at home by Udinese in their previous outing in the competition, they could do with bouncing back with a win to boost their qualification hopes.

That, according to Pascoe, is the only job the squad is concentrating on for the time being.

"With the next game, it is always the same," Pascoe said.

"The boys are looking forward to Anzhi.

"Everton against Liverpool is a massive game, but it hasn't been talked about and isn't being thought about at the moment.

"We are thinking just purely about the game tomorrow."

Liverpool will again be without Jose Reina tomorrow and the Reds are unsure whether or not the goalkeeper will recover from his hamstring problem in time to play in Sunday's game.

Reina, who picked up the injury on international duty with Spain and subsequently missed the 1-0 league win over Reading last Saturday, was quoted yesterday as saying he was "getting better, little by little", although he added that he was prepared to be "patient".

The 30-year-old did not take part in the training session with the rest of the Liverpool squad which was open to cameras at Melwood this morning, and asked this afternoon how long Reina was likely to be out of action for, Pascoe said: "We are not quite sure at the moment.

"Hopefully not too long. He is doing his rehab at the moment and is working hard in training.

"So we will just have to assess him over the weekend and we will see then."

Brad Jones deputised for Reina in the Reading game and is set to do so once more for the match against Anzhi.

The nouveaux riche club - coached by Guus Hiddink - have several notable names among their ranks, including former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o.

Jones is fully aware of Eto'o's threat, but says that given the calibre of players he has to contend with every day in training with Liverpool, he is not worried by the prospect of facing the Cameroon international.

"For me, playing against whoever, it doesn't particularly bother me which player it is - it is the same idea when you go out, which is that you don't want to concede goals," Jones said.

"Obviously Eto'o is a fantastic player and has been for a number of years, playing at the top.

"You know you are going to have to be on top of your game, but I have to do that every day with the likes of Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard anyway.

"It is just about making sure you concentrate and do the right things."

PA

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