London – Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has taken a gamble by resting Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson for Thursday's Europa League clash against Scottish club Hearts.
Rodgers could do with a convincing play-off first leg win at Tynecastle after Liverpool slumped to a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion in his first Premier League game in charge of the Reds on Saturday.
In the past a “Battle of Britain” clash would be regarded as a must-win match but the Premier League is very much top priority for Liverpool these days.
And, with a testing fixture against champions Manchester City looming on Sunday, Rodgers has opted not to risk captain Gerrard, star striker Suarez and key defenders Skrtel and Johnson.
“That's the way you've got to look at it,” Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe told his club's website.
“With the squad and the players we have got here it's fantastic, so you have to rotate the players because you play on a Saturday, then a Thursday and a Sunday, so it's an opportunity for all the players to perform.
“One minute you are in the Europa League and the next we will be playing Manchester City, then it's the second leg against Hearts followed by Arsenal.
“There are some fantastic games and teams who you want to play against. These are games we can't wait for.”
Despite Rodgers' squad being weakened by the absence of his key quartet Pascoe insisted Liverpool aren't showing the Scottish Cup winners a lack of respect.
“Every game you put a shirt on for Liverpool FC is very important,” he added. “There will be a full house up in Scotland and all of the boys are looking forward to it.
“It's one of those banana skins and it's a great pull for them to play Liverpool.
“It's two legs and we are going to be positive and try to win the tie up there and then bring them back to Anfield for the same again.” – Sapa-AFP