Hodgson plays down pressure

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Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson insists players are not playing for their futures in Thursday's Europa League tie against Steaua Bucharest.

A number of fringe squad members are set to get a run-out as a depleted party travelled to Romania. Injuries have ruled out Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger, while Hodgson opted to rest Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez, Raul Meireles, Glen Johnson and Paul Konchesky.

Hodgson stressed that it would be unjust to judge individuals on their performances on Thursday and in the final group game in a fortnight's time, because so many of the club's first-choice stars were absent, and he said: "It would be too much to ask. I don't think it would be fair."

Injuries to key players gives the likes of Ryan Babel, who is linked with a move in every transfer window, and Milan Jovanovic, who is still followed by rumours of a return to Standard Liege after just four months at Anfield, a chance to impress.

Reserve team youngsters Dani Pacheco, Nathan Eccleston, Danny Wilson, Jack Robinson and John Flanagan have also been included in the squad.

Hodgson added: "I don't think it is correct to judge people too much when many of them are playing together and are obviously fairly inexperienced at this level.

"I wouldn't want to say they are playing for their long-term futures but I think they have a great opportunity to show me that what I am seeing in training they are able to be produce on the field in important matches when push comes to shove.

"I am very interested to see some of the players who, if not making their debut, at least playing one of very few games that they have had for the club during my time here.

"I think they gain an enormous amount because we are playing against a top-quality team.

"In these games, especially the away games, it is important to have a look at some of the younger players who have been working hard day after day at Melwood and not really had too much of a look in when it comes to playing in the first team."

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

Europa League
Nathan Eccleston
Ryan Babel
Maxi Rodriguez
Danny Wilson
Paul Konchesky
Glen Johnson
Premier League
Fernando Torres
Daniel Agger
Steven Gerrard
Jamie Carragher
Jack Robinson
Milan Jovanovic

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