Selection dilemma for Hodgson

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Football News

Roy Hodgson faces a selection battle with his own medical staff for the start of Liverpool's Europa League campaign next week.

Liverpool begin their competitive season in Macedonia on Thursday - 18 days before their first Barclays Premier League game - as they face FK Rabotnicki in the third qualifying round of Europe's second-tier competition. Hodgson has not yet been able to work with all his players because those that played in the World Cup were granted a later summer break. Players involved in the latter stages in South Africa have not returned to training while England's Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson only got back this week.

Hodgson has been advised that those players should not be considered for the trip to Skopje but the 62-year-old - who launched Fulham's run to the final at the same stage of the competition last season - wants to find middle ground. Hodgson told "It's a little bit of a fight with them to some extent, in order to try and get them to free up more senior players, because their view is very clear that all of these players who are coming back to Melwood just after the World Cup shouldn't play in either of the two games."

He added: "My point of view is that I want to go through in the competition and I might need some of these players, so there's a lot of compromise.

"I fully respect their opinion and in an ideal world I wouldn't even for one minute discuss it with them and I would take it at face value.

"If our first game was on August 15, I'd take it on face value that they don't want me to use these players in any friendly matches, and instead continue working with them and build up their level of fitness.

"But of course we've got official matches now and that's the difference."

The return leg against Rabotnicki takes place the following week, on August 5.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Europa League
Glen Johnson
Premier League
Steven Gerrard
Jamie Carragher

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