Carroll to miss Europa League clash

Andy Carroll will miss the first leg of Liverpool’s Europa League third-round qualifier against FC Gomel with a groin strain.

Carroll, who faces an uncertain future at Anfield after being linked with Newcastle and West Ham, has not made the trip to Belarus.

New signing Fabio Borini could participate, while Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy are on Olympic duty.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the club will benefit from launching their Europa League campaign so early in the season.

Far from frustrated at overseeing his first competitive match at the start of August, Rodgers insists it will provide ideal preparation for the Barclays Premier League.

"We are still finding our fitness and our match fitness so playing these games helps us," he told the club’s official website,

"It will give us that edge going into the beginning of this season.

"Players at this level are competitive so they love the competition.

"Even though we are still gaining fitness it’s a competitive game and it’s a tournament we would like to do well in.

"It’s a bit of a hike and we’ve got to get on our travels again, but that’s life and you’ve just got to get on with it.

"We are looking forward to the game and hopefully it will serve us well for the beginning of the season."

Liverpool open the new Premier League season at West Brom on August 18 and Rodgers insists the domestic championship dominates the club’s thinking.

"I don’t want to disrespect the Europa League, but there’s no doubt the league is our priority and we want to finish as high as we possibly can," he said.

"The Europa League is a competition we’d like to do well in.

"Obviously to do well in it you’ve got to play a lot of games and hopefully that will be the case.

"When you play for Liverpool every tournament and every game is a priority."

"I never look too further than the next game and that is Belarus on Thursday and we are looking forward to it."

FC Gomel finished third in the Belarusian Premier League last season, but lifted the domestic cup.

They have never progressed beyond the first round of any major European competition, but Rodgers is refusing to dismiss the challenge Liverpool face at Central Stadion on Thursday night.

"We have done our homework on them," the former Swansea manager said.

"They have done well to qualify for this stage, the pitch looks nice and they play a 4-2-3-1 system.

"But while I always respect the opponent we play and never underestimate them, I’m a big believer in focusing on our own game and maximising how we play the game.

"If we do that then I believe throughout the course of the season we’ll have a chance of winning every game."

Liverpool squad: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Spearing, Gerrard, Shelvey, Henderson, Downing, Bellamy, Suarez, Borini, Doni, Kelly, Flanagan, Coates, Sterling.