Hodgson not taking Gerrard risks

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has explained why he has opted to leave captain Steven Gerrard on Merseyside as the Reds travel to Holland for Thursday night’s Europa League tie against Utrecht.

Gerrard was a notable absentee from the squad, with defender Daniel Agger also not traveling.

Hodgson explained this afternoon that, due to Gerrard’s recent problems with back injuries, he did not want to risk playing the midfielder in three games in a week – with Sunday’s Premier League clash against Blackpool on the back of his mind.

He said, “Steven Gerrard we’re sparing because he has a lot of games and we’re always concerned that if he plays three games in a week we might lose him for a longer period. Luckily we have quite a few options in midfield.

“Gerrard was the only one of our first-team squad that we discussed in terms of should he or shouldn’t he play and that has to do with the fact he suffers from back pain.

“I’ve got 23 fit players to choose from and I’ve chosen to leave one out because he’s a very important player for us in the next 40-odd games if we are going to do well.

“At the moment Steven Gerrard is fit. If this had been a decisive game in the group and we needed a positive result to get us through he would have played. We play six games in the group and this is only the second.”

Utrecht vs Liverpool gets underway at 6pm tomorrow (Thursday) and a full match preview can be found here.