Brendan Rodgers has defended the Liverpool squad he has picked to face Bordeaux and revealed Mamadou Sakho will be offered a new contract.
None of Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne, Lucas Leiva, James Milner and Christian Benteke have even travelled to France for Thursday night’s Europa League opener, but Rodgers has denied he is taking a gamble with his squad selection.
“My approach is what I did in this competition when I first came in: we played players who were needing games and it gives me a chance to look at some younger players and back then we finished top of the group,” said Rodgers.
“We will pick a team to win the game. At this stage for me it is really about trying to get a performance level as consequently that will lead to us getting consistent results.
“Some players who I left behind will play (against Norwich on Sunday) but there will be players who play (on Thursday) who will play at the weekend and that opportunity is there.”
Rodgers also revealed that Sakho will be offered an extension on his contract, which runs until 2017.
“Mama is a player we want to keep,” Rodgers added.
“It’s been a difficult start for him. We won the first few games so it was difficult to change the team. He was working up his fitness levels.
“We were always going to need Mama after the international break. We want to extend his contract at the club and for sure he will play.”
Rodgers also confirmed that Divock Origi will lead the line for Liverpool in Benteke’s absence.
“Divock is a young player settling into the club well and he will feature,” Rodgers said.
“He’s a very talented young boy. He’s got great attributes and I’m sure over time he will demonstrate those.”
Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol, whose side have had a similar start to Liverpool in their opening five matches, is taking nothing for granted despite Liverpool’s weakened squad.
“There are a number of Liverpool’s top-level players absent,” he said. “We do not change: our Benteke is missing – Cheick Diabate is injured (with a thigh strain).
“A good time to play Liverpool? When you are Bordeaux, I do not know if there is one.”