Liverpool v Everton: Brendan Rodgers wary of weakened teams for Merseyside derby

The sides meet in the Premier League at Anfield on Tuesday

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits weakened teams on both sides may well make it difficult for the 222nd Merseyside derby to match this season's earlier encounter at Goodison Park.

The Reds are missing defenders Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique and midfielder Lucas Leiva while Everton could have up to nine players missing at Anfield on Tuesday.

Rodgers is hopeful Joe Allen will be sufficiently recovered from a hamstring problem to bolster the midfield but if they are to reproduce another exciting 3-3 draw like the one back in November it may be as a result of mistakes from patched-up teams.

"We need to see with Joe," Rodgers said. "He was on the training field today but it is a case of assessing as to whether it will push him too much for this game because we don't want another injury in a key area.

"If we had a raft of players we could put him in and if he came out (injured) we could put someone else in

"We have to think not only for tomorrow night but for the next few weeks.

"There is still going to be quality players and the football ideas of both teams will come out but it is unfortunate a number of players are out of the game - and a lot of them starting players - it would've made it a different game.

"It is unfortunate both teams are coming into the game with not the strongest squads because both have picked up injuries."

Rodgers, who last week had only 15 players fit for training, has been trying to fill out his squad and while he has been looking at loan deals he insists he will not "stockpile" players who are not going to improve his first team.

And he tried to use the lack of signings as an incentive to his squad, stressing it would galvanise them.

"We have to wait and see, there is certainly nothing imminent. If we could do that it is something we would want to do," he added.

"I said all along this was a group we needed a bit of luck with injury and unfortunately we have been hit with a bad run of injuries.

"I am reluctant to bring in anyone which just stockpiles players, I want to bring in players who can impact our starting XI and if I can't do that I won't do anything.

"I wouldn't bring in a player here in January unless he was a really outstanding player who we could get on a loan that is going to really help.

"We have enough of that type, support players, around the team and if I wanted to do that I'd rather give a young player an opportunity.

"Okay it might not be the ideal timing for them but it is what is going to be available and if there is nothing available there is not a great deal we can do.

"I think we have shown up until this point that with the squad we are a team up there on merit.

"If we can't bring in the players who can help us that is unfortunate.

"If none comes in that will galvanise us even more and we will focus in on the players we have."

Victory over Everton would put four points between the fourth-placed Reds and their near-neighbours while defeat would see them concede superiority in the table and be another dent to their Champions League hopes.

"It is a very important game as a victory puts us four points clear. Our home form over the course of the season has been brilliant," said Rodgers.

"Looking at our team when we have everyone available we are a very strong outfit.

"I have great confidence in the team of players and for us the key is Champions League qualification.

"When I came in here Everton had finished above Liverpool and last season finished above us also.

"Everton's basis is a good defensive record, still stable from what they have been over a few years - we are a team who have upped the ante in terms of our offensiveness."

PA

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