Published: 13:14 02/08/2012
Five-time European Champions Liverpool play their first Europa League qualifier in Belarus on Thursday night and are 16/1 with bet365 to win the trophy ahead of the game against FC Gomel.
New boss Brendan Rogers understands all about the Anfield club’s European tradition and is on a hiding to nothing as he prepares his side to face the unknown Belarussians. Although the Europa League is seen a consolation prize for a club of Liverpool’s stature, Rogers is taking the competition very seriously and knows this could be a potential banana skin as it comes during the Premier League pre-season.
Little is known about Liverpool’s opponents and to compound the problem facing the former Swansea manager, the squad is traveling without a full compliment of strikers for the first leg against FC Gomel. Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy are on Olympic duty while Andy Carroll has been left at home.
“It is difficult, because it is still part of pre-season and I will still have to be careful with the players I play - I can't afford to be losing key players because of the lack of numbers in the group to injury,” Rogers told the Mirror.
"But, at the same time, I believe we have got enough good players here to get through these early rounds. Hopefully, come the Christmas period, we will have qualified and we can put it to bed until February."
Gomel finished third in their Premier League last season and have already begun their Europa League campaign, losing 1-0 at home to FK Renova who play in the Macedonia First League. Bookies are expecting the English Premier League side to have too much class for the Belarussians and bet365 go 4/11 Liverpool to win the first leg, Gomel are 8/1 and the draw is 7/2.
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