Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has left out Steven Gerrard & Luis Suarez for clash with Anzhi
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has left out most of his top stars for Thursday night's clash against Anzhi Makhachkala.
By Pete O'Rourke - Follow me: @skysportspeteo
Last Updated: 08/11/12 9:26am
Rodgers has decided to rotate his squad for the game in Moscow with Sunday's Premier League clash with Chelsea in mind.
Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Joe Allen, Nuri Sahin, Daniel Agger, Jose Reina, Glen Johnson Raheem Sterling and Jose Enrique have all not travelled as Rodgers looks to keep them fresh for the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Youngsters Stephen Sama, Adam Morgan and Conor Coady have been called into the squad, while Jon Flanagan is available again after injury.
Daniel Pacheco is also included after impressing for the under 21s earlier this week, with Jamie Carragher set to captain the Reds.
Rodgers has challenged his fringe players to prove they are worthy of a place in his first-choice side.
Many of the side who struggled in last week's Capital One Cup defeat at home to Swansea will again be given the chance to impress, but Rodgers denied those players needed to redeem themselves against a side second in the Russian League but he is looking for some of them to show they can make a difference.
"I knew the cup game (against Swansea) was always going to be difficult," said Rodgers.
"But I've said to the players the biggest thing we look for is that their focus and concentration is right.
"Everyone wants to play in the Premier League but this is a real opportunity to shine and show you can get into that team.
"We have already seen that this season Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom all started in the cup competitions and they are now regulars playing in the Premier League team.
"Every game is a platform. There is a great motivation there for the players but it is also the opportunity for them to prove they can play and obviously get themselves into that team."
On the defensive
Rodgers defended the strength of the side he could put out on Thursday at the Lokomotiv Stadium - UEFA will not allow Anzhi to play in their troubled home region of Dagestan.
"It is not a secondary team," added Rodgers. "It is a team in order to a) win the game and b) give players an opportunity to play where they want to play.
"There is certainly no lack of respect for Anzhi. We have a squad here that we feel can get a result."