Fernando Torres could be in line to to build on his 45minutes of European football so far this season, as Roy Hodgson has named a much stronger squad than used in previous Europa outings for the Reds trip to Utrecht.
Captain and driving force Steven Gerrard (rested) and Daniel Agger (groin) are the biggest names missing from Hodgson’s squad for their 2nd game of the group stage but Liverpool are likely to opt for more experience in their starting line up in Holland, as both Dirk Kuyt, a former Utrecht player himself and Ryan Babel hope to impress in their homeland.
The biggest question for Liverpool at this moment in time remains as to who will fill the void at left back as Fabio Aurelio, Paul Konchesky and Daniel Agger are all presently sidelined with minor knocks, Hodgson is likely to turn to either Martin Kelly or Glen Johnson on the night as cover. Roy Hodgson covered some of the decisions he had made with the travelling squad in the pre-match press conference.
Hodgson on Gerrard:
“Steven Gerrard we’re sparing because he has a lot of games and we’re always concerned that if he plays three games in a week we might lose him for a longer period. Luckily we have quite a few options in midfield.”
“Gerrard was the only one of our first-team squad that we discussed in terms of should he or shouldn’t he play and that has to do with the fact he suffers from back pain.”
“I’ve got 23 fit players to choose from and I’ve chosen to leave one out because he’s a very important player for us in the next 40-odd games if we are going to do well.”
“At the moment Steven Gerrard is fit. If this had been a decisive game in the group and we needed a positive result to get us through he would have played. We play six games in the group and this is only the second.”
Hodgson on Torres:
“I think the injury problems are behind him now. I don’t think we can consistently bring up the injury problems.”
“There’s no reason now to separate him from the rest of the group.”
“He’s been recovered from the injury which kept him out of the end of last season since the start of the World Cup. The injury he picked up in the final was a minor injury which had cleared up by the time he came back for pre-season training, albeit he came back late.”
“We have been keeping a close eye on him. We have been trying to monitor his progress and not throw him in the deep end too soon.”
“Quite frankly I wouldn’t dream of playing him on Thursday night if I didn’t think he could play on Sunday as well. But I haven’t selected him for Thursday night yet!”
Hodgson on Agger:
“We thought at first it was a groin strain but he’s gone for an MRI at lunch time today. I haven’t received the results of that yet.”
“The injury hasn’t responded as well as we hoped it would. Initially, on Monday, when he came into training we thought he’d recover for this game.”
“He hasn’t, so at the moment there is a question mark over Sunday’s game.”
Hodgson also added on the difference of the squad named for this midweek fixture, compared to the side that he selected to face Northampton, which ultimately crashed out of the Carling Cup last week.
“If you’re playing against Northampton and it’s 1-1 and you’re not playing very well, and you’re desperate to change the game around, and then you look around and you realise you’ve given all the first-team players time off – maybe that’s one of the things that has affected my thinking.
“I learned a lot of things last week!”
While Liverpool fans will be more positive over the squad selection compared to that of recent midweek ventures, all eyes until kick off ,will be on who makes the starting eleven and the formation in which they are deployed. Liverpool are looking for their 6th European win in a row and hope will remain that it can achieved with an element of flair at times, regardless of being an away venue. The talent is certainly in the ranks to achieve it.
Liverpool Squad: Reina, Jones, Johnson, Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Carragher, Shelvey, Poulsen, Lucas, Rodriguez, Spearing, Babel, Meireles, Jovanovic, Cole, Kuyt, Eccleston, Ngog, Torres.
Image Source: Action Images/Reuters