Liverpool face Besiktas in the second leg of their Europa League clash on Thursday but will go to Turkey without Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho.
These two only add to the already lengthy injury list that Brendan Rodgers has to contend with. Sky Sports are reporting that Liverpool’s vice-captain Henderson has been ruled out with an ankle injury while Coutinho appears to have just been rested by the Reds boss.
The Brazilian has started 19 games in a row since December for the Reds so Rodgers feels now is a good time to rest him with a big game with Manchester City coming up on Sunday.
Liverpool are already without captain Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Jon Flanagan and Glen Johnson through injury as well as Lazar Markovic through suspension for their trip to Turkey meaning defender Martin Skrtel will deputise as captain for the game.
It is the first time that Liverpool will have played in the Ataturk Stadium since their heroics in Instanbul back in 2005. This time Liverpool take a 1-0 lead into the game with Besiktas and shouldn’t have to produce any miraculous comebacks to win this game.
Mario Balotelli gave Liverpool the lead in the first leg from the penalty spot after he took the ball from stand-in captain Henderson, that shouldn’t be a problem this time if the situation arises though as Balotelli will surely be the designated penalty taker from now on.
It is a big decision to just rest Coutinho for the game especially if there is no injury keeping him out of the game. He has been one of their best players this season and scored a wonderful goal against Southampton at the weekend.
It is strange for Rodgers to prioritise a game with City over progressing in the Europa League as winning that competition is their best chance of getting in the Champions League next season, but he clearly has faith in the rest of his squad and thinks they will get the job done without some of the team's stars.
The Liverpool boss could look to bring in some youth team players for the game with Jordan Williams, Jerome Sinclair, Cameron Brannagan, Jordan Lussey and Ryan Fulton all being added to their squad.
Liverpool were relatively comfortable in the first leg and will be confident of getting a result in Istanbul despite missing a number of key players. However, Besiktas will have to go for it and will likely put Liverpool under a lot of pressure early on. If Rodgers does hand debuts to some younger players, to will be interesting to see how they cope on the European stage.
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