Roy hits out at schedule

Image: Hodgson: Testing start with Reds

Roy Hodgson has criticised the organisation of the Europa League, claiming that he could not imagine a tougher start as Liverpool boss.

Liverpool boss annoyed that fixture-list dictates team selection

Roy Hodgson has criticised the organisation of the Europa League, claiming that he could not imagine a tougher start to life as Liverpool manager. The former Fulham boss was named successor to Rafa Benitez earlier in the summer and he faces his first competitive match in Thursday's third round qualifier against FK Rabotnicki in Macedonia. Hodgson has omitted World Cup participants Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole, Jamie Carragher, Glen Johnson, Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez from his squad for the trip, with their new club boss suggesting their inclusion would have been 'folly'. Finalists Fernando Torres, Jose Reina, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel are also absent as they are still on holiday to leave Liverpool with a shadow squad to that which is expected to kick off their Premier League campaign against Arsenal on 15th August. Hodgson is far from impressed that his selection has been forced upon him, telling a press conference shown on Sky Sports News: "I couldn't have envisaged at the start of my time with Liverpool a more difficult situation than the one I find myself in.

Tremendous burden

"Coming to Skopje to play a third qualifying round game against a good opponent having really had very little chance to work with the Liverpool first team, and not having as many as 10 senior first-team players at my disposal. "So it couldn't be more difficult and I suppose, if the worst happens and we don't get through this round because Rabotnicki proved to be the stronger of the teams, then that will answer the question that, yes, we weren't able to sustain with the current situation. "I think that in World Cup years it is a tremendous burden on the senior teams from countries like England, Spain, Italy and Germany to have to play third qualifying matches on 29th July when the players have not returned from their holidays until 22nd or 23rd July. "Everybody knows that you can't bring people off the beach, give them three days' training and then throw them into a top-class competitive game. "So we had no choice, but not to do that and as a result the team that we field tomorrow is going to be a very different team to that which plays against Arsenal on 15th August." After taking on the Gunners, Liverpool face difficult matches against Manchester City, West Brom, Birmingham and Manchester United in their opening five games to the new Premier League season.

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