Rodgers: We have a strong squad


Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers may have left eight players at home but he remains confident what remains of his squad can get the job done against Besiktas.

The Reds return to the Ataturk Stadium, venue for their famous 2005 Champions League victory, holding a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against the Turkish League leaders.

However, they will have to complete the job against a side second in the Turkish Super Lig without vice-captain Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho and defenders Glen Johnson and Mamadou Sakho.

Their absences, coupled with the already missing Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva – still working their way back from injury – and the suspended Lazar Markovic, means Rodgers has little room for manoeuvre.

“We’ve got a few injuries. We’ve probably out here without eight of our squad who have knocks, some with previous and some who picked up something at the weekend,” said the Reds boss, whose side host Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

“We still have a squad strong enough to hopefully get the job complete but we’ve got a few knocks and niggles from the weekend.”

Gerrard’s absence means Liverpool will have no players who played in the Champions League final almost 10 years ago.

However, the stadium brings back brilliant memories for supporters and the club itself will forever be associated with the venue.

“Of course it was a great historic night for the club and everyone associated with Liverpool respects that,” added Rodgers.

“It was a little while ago and there won’t be too many of our players that were involved at that time.

“It’s a real iconic stadium for the club and a big part of that history.

“For us to go there and play with a lot of young players and a new squad against a good team, we’ll look forward to that.

“We’re looking forward to the atmosphere and we want to get the job complete.”

With so many absentees there will be a greater onus placed on the likes of Raheem Sterling.

The 20-year-old is looking forward to the match, insisting the often hostile atmosphere is something which does not worry him.

“The support in Turkey looks incredible. It’s going to be a really exciting game – for me personally as well, as I’ve always wanted to play in Turkey and see what the fans are like,” he said.

“Everyone says how amazing they are. People say: ‘You might get intimidated’ but I think the fans at Anfield are quite intimidating (to the opposition) as well so I don’t think it will be too different.

“I think it’s going to be a really difficult game. We’ve got to stick to our game plan that the manager has set out for us. That’s no different for tomorrow night.

“We’ll be trying to play possession football and try to play really attacking football at the same time.

“I think it should be a really good game and hopefully we can just play the football that we know we can play.”

Sterling heads into the game full of confidence after scoring against Southampton at the weekend but he has already put that goal behind him.

“It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet in the previous game, going into your next game,” he added.

“But I’m totally focused on trying to do my best tomorrow for the team and hopefully we can come away with a win.”

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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