Hodgson taking cup ‘very seriously’

Goalkeeper Brad Jones and defender Danny Wilson will make their

debuts in the game as the vast majority of the Reds’ stars are

rested. Hodgson is likely to give other fringe players a run-out,

although he has also urged the likes of David Ngog – the club’s top

scorer with six goals this season – Ryan Babel and Dani Pacheco to

further their claims for more first-team action. But despite the

rotation, which has already been effectively used in the Europa

League, the manager insists he is taking the competition seriously.

“It’s a strange game for us in a sense,” he said. “It’s one where

we definitely need to rotate the squad having played so many games

and having to play so many more before the international break.

“But on the other hand it’s a competition I take very seriously and

I want to have a good run in the competition. We are bothered.

“There’s a responsibility on those who replace the big-name players

like Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and Jamie

Carragher to name but four. “And to be fair they’ve shown

themselves capable of taking on that burden in a couple of European

matches already. “As we saw in the last game against Steaua

Bucharest, Jay Spearing was arguably one of the best players on the

field. If you never give him a chance, how do you know that?” For

the likes of Jones and Wilson, this is the moment they have

patiently been waiting for, particularly Jones, who joined from

Middlesbrough last month in the knowledge he would be back-up to

Reina. But after four matches as a substitute he gets his first

taste of action and Hodgson expects him to slot in seamlessly.

“Brad Jones is an international goalkeeper for Australia and he’s

played many games for Middlesbrough so I have no doubts about him

and his competence,” he said. “Pepe is a fantastic character who

wants to play every game, whether it’s a seven-a-side in training

or any game Liverpool plays, but it’s important that Brad gets his

chance. “Goalkeepers have got to be a very special breed. You need

a character who is good enough for the Premier League but who also

understands that there’s another goalkeeper at the club who’s

probably better than him. “You look for an exceptional person and

then all you can do is try to keep them on board as much as you

can. “That is done by treating them with the proper respect in

training, and that’s very important, and by giving them a chance to

play when the opportunity presents itself.” Wilson will start at

left-back despite playing for Rangers in the centre, where Daniel

Agger will partner Sotirios Kyrgiakos. It is an experiment Hodgson

hopes will pay off. “Danny came here as a centre-back but is

capable of playing at full-back in the same way we think Martin

Kelly is capable of playing in this position,” he added. “He’s a

player with great potential, very comfortable on the ball. I’m also

quite interested in Dani Pacheco as well. He’s impressed in

training and looks like a very interesting prospect. “His

first-team chances have been limited because he wasn’t in

Switzerland in pre-season (because he was at the European Under-19

Championships with Spain), where he would have played for sure.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him play and it’s another

great chance for Ryan Babel and David Ngog to stake their claim for

a place in the team.” Another player likely to be in the squad is

winger David Amoo, who made his full debut in the Europa League

third qualifying round against Rabotnicki in July and has since

scored three goals in three games for the reserves. “It was a great

experience to play in Macedonia in front of such a big crowd and it

would be even better to play at Anfield for the first team,” the

19-year-old said. “Obviously I’ve played there in the Youth Cup but

this would be another level up. It would be great to be involved in

some capacity.”