Brendan Rodgers Says Premier League Is Liverpool’s Top Priority, Europa League Is ‘Opportunity’


Brendan Rodgers Says Premier League Is Liverpool's Top Priority, Europa League Is 'Opportunity'Brendan Rodgers is relishing the opportunity of pitching some of his younger talents into action in Thursday night's clash against Young Boys — and challenged them to show they have the necessary attributes to play at the highest level.

The Reds departed Merseyside on Wednesday at lunchtime for the UEFA Europa League group-stage opener in Bern with a squad boasting an average age of 21, including seven teenagers within its ranks.

And Rodgers is not ruling out the prospect of players forcing their way into the frame to feature against Manchester United on Sunday by putting in a strong performance against Young Boys.

"I'm always excited to see young players because you never actually know how they will do until you put them in a particular situation," he told a press conference at the Stade de Suisse.

"But we've got a mix of players here — we've got players who have won this tournament, we've got experienced international players and some very talented players. I'm really, really looking forward to seeing them come together as a group and to seeing how they represent the club.

"If the players do well tomorrow night then there's absolutely no reason why they can't be involved at the weekend. I like to have a small squad because it gives players who might be just on the outskirts the motivation and an opportunity [to play].

"Secondly, it gives the younger players hope. They always feel that they can get into the squad or be around the squad, but for that they need to show they have the fight and personality to be in the team and that is what we're going to find out over the next few weeks.

"I'm very much looking forward to the game tomorrow night. We've got a squad who can win the game, or certainly get a good result, and I'm very confident we can do that."

Rodgers has conducted plenty of research on Young Boys and feels the Swiss outfit will pose a threat to the Reds if they are allowed to implement their usual technical approach to the game.

"From watching the videos and the images of the opposition, you can see they are a good football side," he said. "They play 4-3-3 and Swiss football has always produced good technical and tactical players.

"The full national team have got some great players who move the ball and pass the ball well, and Young Boys are very much the same.

"They play with holding midfielders with good experience who control the game and they will look to build the game from behind, so it will be a difficult test for us. They play the system well and are coming off the back of a Cup win at the weekend, which was a good victory.

"And obviously they're playing against one of the biggest clubs in the world, which will be a big motivation to them."

Asked about where the Europa League comes in terms of his priorities for Liverpool this campaign, Rodgers responded: "There's no doubt the Premier League is our number one priority — but I see this tournament as an opportunity.

"This is a competition that we would like to do very well in, so we're certainly not dismissing it.

"I've brought young players [here] who I feel, from what I have seen in the early part of the season, can come in and contribute. I know they've got talent, the question now is can they come into the first team and fight? That's what we're looking for.

"The balance has to be right; we have young players here, who are exciting, and we have experienced players who have played a great role for me at the football club.

"We have players like Nuri Sahin who needs games to get up to speed and we've got guys like Jamie Carragher who need to keep ticking over as well because they are very important players for me.

"Carragher has been absolutely phenomenal, every day. To see his work, to see his focus, see how he has led his life and to see his passion for Liverpool Football Club is really encouraging and he's a great role model for all the younger players."

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