Premier League remains priority for Liverpool says Brendan Rodgers as Europa League campaign starts

 

Brendan Rodgers insists Europe is only a sideshow to Liverpool's overwhelming priority - the Barclays Premier League.

The Reds open their Europa League campaign with the first leg of their third qualifying round clash with Belarus' FC Gomel tonight.

Rodgers, overseeing his first competitive match as Liverpool boss, embraces the competition, but insists the Premier League dominates the club's thinking.

"I don't want to disrespect the Europa League, but there's no doubt the league is our priority and we want to finish as high as we possibly can," he told the club's official website, http://www.liverpoolfc.com.

"The Europa League is a competition we'd like to do well in.

"Obviously to do well in it you've got to play a lot of games and hopefully that will be the case.

"When you play for Liverpool every tournament and every game is a priority."

FC Gomel finished third in the Belarusian Premier League last season, but lifted the domestic cup.

They have never progressed beyond the first round of any major European competition, but Rodgers is refusing to dismiss the challenge Liverpool face at Central Stadion.

"We have done our homework on them," the former Swansea manager said.

"They have done well to qualify for this stage, the pitch looks nice and they play a 4-2-3-1 system.

"But while I always respect the opponent we play and never underestimate them, I'm a big believer in focusing on our own game and maximising how we play the game.

"If we do that then I believe throughout the course of the season we'll have a chance of winning every game."

England striker Andy Carroll, who has been linked with Newcastle and West Ham, has failed to travel with the squad because of a minor groin strain.

New signing Fabio Borini could participate, while Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy are on Olympic duty.

PA

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