Andy Carroll to miss first leg of Liverpool's Europa League qualifier

LONDON. August 4. KAZINFORM Andy Carroll's Liverpool career has been cast into further doubt after he was omitted from the squad to face FC Gomel in Belarus, a match that "means everything" to their manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Europa League third-round qualifying first leg represents Rodgers' competitive debut as Liverpool manager and has posed a logistical nightmare for the club, with the travelling party booked into two hotels and several staff left behind on Merseyside due to a shortage of rooms in Gomel.

Carroll failed to make the trip despite being named in Rodgers' initial squad on Tuesday. Liverpool insist the 23-year-old was omitted after suffering a slight groin strain in training and will be fit for next Thursday's second leg at Anfield, although his absence comes at a time when the club is seeking to offload the £35m striker and hoping to receive a better offer than the one from West Ham United. That deal is a £2m loan fee plus a guaranteed £17m should West Ham avoid relegation from the Premier League next season.

The Liverpool striker is also wanted by Newcastle United, who have yet to respond to West Ham's proposal with a counter-offer, and would not be cup-tied for the Europa League group stage should he play in the preliminary rounds for his current employers. Carroll, however, is resisting Liverpool's attempts to sell him and is not keen on a move to West Ham, Kazinform has learnt from the Guardian.

Liverpool will be under-strength in Belarus but even with the travel problems, the tie's low profile and the interruption to pre-season training, Rodgers is relishing his managerial debut. He said: "Maybe over the history of the club this will not be one of the most glamorous games but, for me, it will mean everything. Taking a team into Europe, that has conquered Europe for many years, and go in there and compete is everything for me. This club has so much history. For me and the players, it won't be taken lightly. It is a European competition. It is the Uefa Cup. The last time this club won it was when they won the treble in 2001. I'm sure when they won it there was a real sense of achievement. For me it is a competition that is important. Every game is. If you are prioritising, then of course the Premier League is something we want to do well in. I want to manage and navigate my way around it; to make sure the players are fit enough but also make sure we are strong enough - which I believe we will be - to do well in it."

Rodgers has taken Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, who could make his first competitive appearance since rupturing a cruciate ligament eight months ago, and new signing Fabio Borini to Belarus. But, with Luis Suárez, Sebastián Coates and Craig Bellamy on Olympic duty and his Euro 2012 contingent only back in training last week, the manager will not take risks.

He added: "Of course it is difficult because it is still part of pre-season and I will still have to be careful with the players I play. I can't afford to be losing key players because of the lack of numbers in the group to injury. But, at the same time, I believe we have got enough good players here to get through these early rounds. Hopefully, come the Christmas period, we will have qualified and we can put it to bed until February."


Currently reading