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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Europa League preview: Liverpool vs. Napoli


Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has pledged to field a strong team in Thursday’s Europa League clash at home against Napoli as he seeks to take a major step towards qualification for the knockout stages.

The 63-year-old believes four points from their remaining three games – two of which are at home – will be enough for his Group K leaders. And even with a huge match against Chelsea looming on Sunday, Hodgson – in contrast to their away European fixtures – is prepared to field an experienced side.

“I think if we can get four more points we’ll be pretty much secure for a place in the next round as I can see the other games being tight,” he said.

“We got one of the tougher groups with Napoli, Steaua and Utrecht and on paper it looked even, but we’ve done what we’ve needed to do.

“We’ll have a strong team out on Thursday, we won’t rest too many.

“When you’re playing these European games it’s the travelling that’s one of the worst aspects.

“You’re away for three days and you’re very concerned about the way the players will react, not just to the game but also the traveling.

“At home it’s a slightly lesser problem but of course we need to look at the minutes people are playing and try to keep some sort of balance there.”

Hodgson will be without Joe Cole (hamstring), Dirk Kuyt (ankle) and Daniel Agger (calf) while Sotirios Kyrgiakos is troubled by a groin problem.

However, Ryan Babel is training with the squad after a rib injury and Glen Johnson is set to return following a thigh problem.

Napoli sit second in the standings, with three draws to their name so far.

Victory at Anfield would see them move above the Reds, and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis has told his players to make the most of playing at such a prestigious ground.

“It will be great to play in a stadium so important against a team with a glorious past and present,” he told www.sccnapoli.it.

“It will be fascinating and even arouse curiosity. I am sure there will be many Neapolitans living in England to follow us at Anfield. I expect a great night.

“Certainly this is one of the most exciting and most important matches in the modern history of Napoli. So I say to the guys that I want a very, very strong team.”

Credit: Soccernet.com

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