Reds boss backs his youngsters to 'swim'

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Football News

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has urged his young players to grasp their chance to impress tonight.

Hodgson is putting faith in youth for his first competitive match in charge having chosen not to risk a number of senior stars for their Europa League qualifier against Rabotnicki in Macedonia.

That means lesser lights such as Diego Cavalieri, Martin Kelly, Stephen Darby and Jay Spearing could get an opportunity to shine. Other youngsters in the squad include new signing Jonjo Shelvey, Nathan Eccleston, Peter Gulacsi, David Amoo, Lauri Dalla Valle and Tom Ince.

Hodgson said: "It is not sink or swim - it would be very harsh to write off a player's chances of becoming a good player on the evidence of a game."

He added: "I think it is more an opportunity to swim than to fear for them sinking.

"But we are obliged to put our European fate into the hands of many inexperienced players.

"We can only hope that, because they have got talent, they will come through these ties against an experienced and well-versed team in European football like Rabotnicki.

"It is a massive step for them but it is a step up you have to experience. You can't talk people through it.

"If you are going to become a top player at a club like Liverpool, and experience European football for many years, you have to be able to handle it."

England players Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson returned to training last week but Hodgson did not want to risk them 17 days before the Barclays Premier League starts.

Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez only came back this week while Fernando Torres, Jose Reina, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel are still on holiday.

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Europa League
Jonjo Shelvey
Stephen Darby
Nathan Eccleston
Joe Cole
Ryan Babel
Maxi Rodriguez
Jose Reina
Glen Johnson
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Dirk Kuyt
Steven Gerrard
Peter Gulacsi
Jamie Carragher
Jay Spearing
Martin Kelly

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