Hodgson taking cup 'very seriously'

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has every faith his second-string players will step up to the mark after being handed the responsibility of getting past Northampton in the third round of the Carling Cup tomorrow.

Goalkeeper Brad Jones and defender Danny Wilson will make their debuts in the game as the vast majority of the Reds’ stars are rested.

Hodgson is likely to give other fringe players a run-out, although he has also urged the likes of David Ngog – the club’s top scorer with six goals this season - Ryan Babel and Dani Pacheco to further their claims for more first-team action.

But despite the rotation, which has already been effectively used in the Europa League, the manager insists he is taking the competition seriously.

“It’s a strange game for us in a sense,” he said. “It’s one where we definitely need to rotate the squad having played so many games and having to play so many more before the international break.

“But on the other hand it’s a competition I take very seriously and I want to have a good run in the competition. We are bothered.

“There’s a responsibility on those who replace the big-name players like Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher to name but four.

“And to be fair they’ve shown themselves capable of taking on that burden in a couple of European matches already.

“As we saw in the last game against Steaua Bucharest, Jay Spearing was arguably one of the best players on the field. If you never give him a chance, how do you know that?”

For the likes of Jones and Wilson, this is the moment they have patiently been waiting for, particularly Jones, who joined from Middlesbrough last month in the knowledge he would be back-up to Reina.

But after four matches as a substitute he gets his first taste of action and Hodgson expects him to slot in seamlessly.

“Brad Jones is an international goalkeeper for Australia and he’s played many games for Middlesbrough so I have no doubts about him and his competence,” he said.

“Pepe is a fantastic character who wants to play every game, whether it’s a seven-a-side in training or any game Liverpool plays, but it’s important that Brad gets his chance.

“Goalkeepers have got to be a very special breed. You need a character who is good enough for the Premier League but who also understands that there’s another goalkeeper at the club who’s probably better than him.

“You look for an exceptional person and then all you can do is try to keep them on board as much as you can.

“That is done by treating them with the proper respect in training, and that’s very important, and by giving them a chance to play when the opportunity presents itself.”

Wilson will start at left-back despite playing for Rangers in the centre, where Daniel Agger will partner Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

It is an experiment Hodgson hopes will pay off.

“Danny came here as a centre-back but is capable of playing at full-back in the same way we think Martin Kelly is capable of playing in this position,” he added.

“He’s a player with great potential, very comfortable on the ball. I’m also quite interested in Dani Pacheco as well. He’s impressed in training and looks like a very interesting prospect.

“His first-team chances have been limited because he wasn’t in Switzerland in pre-season (because he was at the European Under-19 Championships with Spain), where he would have played for sure.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing him play and it’s another great chance for Ryan Babel and David Ngog to stake their claim for a place in the team.”

Another player likely to be in the squad is winger David Amoo, who made his full debut in the Europa League third qualifying round against Rabotnicki in July and has since scored three goals in three games for the reserves.

“It was a great experience to play in Macedonia in front of such a big crowd and it would be even better to play at Anfield for the first team,” the 19-year-old said.

“Obviously I’ve played there in the Youth Cup but this would be another level up. It would be great to be involved in some capacity.”

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