Europa League: Steaua Bucharest v Liverpool
Whatever happens here tonight, the hot topic on tomorrow’s back pages will be the failure of the England bid for the 2018 World Cup, a bid that would have seen Anfield – or the new stadium should it ever be built – host games in FIFA’s big tournament in 8 years’ time.
Tonight’s Liverpool line-up features a number of players who should still be in their prime when that tournament kicks off in Russia – manager Roy Hodgson has made 10 changes to the side that played in his latest away defeat, against Spurs on Sunday.
Dani Pacheco is brought back from out of the cold and gets to start for the first time since Hodgson oversaw Liverpool’s early exit to “formidable” Northampton in the Carling Cup. Not that he’s literally out of the cold for tonight’s game, Liverpool considered the weather conditions to be extreme enough to put out an official warning to supporters.
Danny Wilson also gets to start tonight, with Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Kelly getting another opportunity to show their worth. Soto Kyrgiakos starts in the centre of defence, but Pepe Reina gets the captain’s armband in the absence of both Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.
Fabio Aurelio comes in at left-back in place of Konchesky, but Poulsen returns in place of Lucas. Joe Cole is back from injury and still looking to make a decent impression in a Red shirt, as is Milan Jovanovich, another starter. Ryan Babel starts, it remains to be seen if that’s in the centre-forward position he prefers to his usual wide role.
The bench also has a youthful look with Nathan Eccleston, John Flanagan and Jack Robinson amongst the seven subs.
Kick-off is early – 6pm UK time.
Liverpool: Reina, Kelly, Kyrgiakos, Wilson, Aurelio, Poulsen, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Pacheco, Cole, Babel.
Subs: Jones, Lucas, Ngog, Skrtel, Eccleston, Flanagan, Robinson.