Rodgers lays down challenge

  • Last Updated: November 7 2012, 19:19 GMT

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has challenged his fringe players to prove they are worthy of a place in his first-choice side.

Brendan Rodgers: Looking for focus and concentration

The Reds boss has travelled with a weakened squad to Moscow, having left behind the likes of Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling and Nuri Sahin.

It means many of the side who struggled in last week's Capital One Cup defeat at home to Swansea will be asked to improve their performances against Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League on Thursday.

Included in the travelling party are the likes of Joe Cole, who came in for particular criticism after a desperately disappointing 45 minutes, and Stewart Downing.

Rodgers denied those players needed to redeem themselves against a side second in the Russian League but he is looking for some of them to show they can make a difference.

"I knew the cup game (against Swansea) was always going to be difficult," he told Press Association Sport.

"But I've said to the players the biggest thing we look for is that their focus and concentration is right.

"Everyone wants to play in the Premier League but this is a real opportunity to shine and show you can get into that team.

"We have already seen that this season Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom all started in the cup competitions and they are now regulars playing in the Premier League team.

"Every game is a platform. There is a great motivation there for the players but it is also the opportunity for them to prove they can play and obviously get themselves into that team."

Rodgers defended the strength of the side he could put out on Thursday at the Lokomotiv Stadium - UEFA will not allow Anzhi to play in their troubled home region of Dagestan.

"It is not a secondary team," he said. "It is a team in order to a) win the game and b) give players an opportunity to play where they want to play.

"There is certainly no lack of respect for Anzhi. We have a squad here that we feel can get a result."

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