Under-performing Liverpool players trying too hard says Roy Hodgson
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes some of his under-performing players are trying too hard to rediscover their form in order to force their way into the first team.
The Reds boss made 10 changes for last night's disappointing goalless Europa League draw at home to Utrecht, giving a chance to the likes of Joe Cole, Milan Jovanovic, Christian Poulsen, Ryan Babel and Fabio Aurelio.
Only the latter two put in anything resembling a half-decent performance but just centre-back Martin Skrtel, who played 45 minutes, is likely to retain his place for Saturday's visit of Hodgson's former club Fulham.
The frustration continues, in particular, for Cole as suspension and injury have contributed to a disappointing start to his Liverpool career after his high-profile summer free transfer from Chelsea.
He has not been able to establish a regular starting place and his situation is symptomatic of the issues facing Hodgson at Anfield, namely that there is not the depth of quality outside of his starting line-up to give him options over a long Barclays Premier League season.
"It is most frustrating for them because they want it so much," said Hodgson.
"There is no lack of desire, commitment, effort and wanting to do well.
"Where we broke down quite often (against Utrecht) was technically unfortunately.
"We didn't look after the ball enough or produce the right pass and that frustrates players who have first-team potential because they know they are capable of doing it.
"I see these players every day in training and I know some of them will be disappointed they did not take their chance a little bit better but that won't affect me because they will get other chances.
"Sometimes in football you can want things too much. If you don't get a chance on a regular basis and one comes along sometimes your desire to take it can impact negatively on your performance and that might have been the case for one or two.
"Some of the players whose performance could be categorised as a drop off compared to the previous XI will be disappointed to hear that.
"I didn't learn that much more other than that I have a group of players who are prepared to work their socks off for the club and will continue to improve as the season goes on."
One of the few positives to come from last night's match - with the side having already qualified for the last 32 - was that Hodgson was able to keep his first-choice side out of the firing line.
They all took part in a full training session today and the Reds boss hopes it will give them an advantage in their preparations to face the Cottagers.
Hodgson admitted he initially wanted to give Fernando Torres a run out against the Dutch to help boost the confidence of the Spain international, who has not scored in four matches.
But the more he thought about it, especially after receiving input from the fitness conditioning trainers, he opted to leave him on the bench for 90 minutes.
"I was seriously thinking he might get 45 minutes and that would be good for his confidence," the 63-year-old admitted.
"Perhaps he doesn't need the confidence boost. That is one of the things I was raking my conscience about.
"I was looking at his (first) 50 Liverpool goals the other day and they are quire incredible.
"I am hoping, by making the decision I did, we will see him come to light in the Premier League on Saturday."
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