Gerrard has eyes on Europa prize

LIVERPOOL captain Steven Gerrard wants to win the Europa League, even though he admits it is not the club’s priority this season.

The England midfielder echoed the sentiments of coach Roy Hodgson when he admitted the Barclays Premier League is the main focus after a disappointing seventh-placed finish last season.

But after four years without a trophy Gerrard is keen to bring some silverware back to Anfield and knows Europe represents as good a chance as any.

After getting through a play-off by completing a 3-1 aggregate victory over Trabzonspor in Turkey on Thursday night, for which the captain was left at home to recover from a back injury, the Reds have been pitted against Steaua Bucharest, Napoli and Utrecht in the group stages.

“It’s a strong group and I’m certainly looking forward to the games,” he said.

“The media will make us early favourites I’m sure, because of our experience in the Champions League and last year in the Europa League.

“I’m confident we can get out of the group but it will be tough. The draw has given us some difficult challenges.

“I don’t think the Europa League is the priority. Everybody knows that our league position is the priority.

“But it’s another trophy, it’s a big cup. We haven’t won a trophy for four years now so it’s important we put a good show on in all the cup competitions and try to reward the fans with a final.”

The Reds face West Brom tomorrow without Javier Mascherano, who has left for Barcelona with manager Roy Hodgson criticising his selfish attitude.

Roberto di Matteo’s West Brom, for their part, will be without defender Marek Cech for at least three weeks. The Slovakia international fractured his metatarsal in Tuesday night’s Carling Cup win over Leyton Orient.

Midfielder Jerome Thomas (foot), defender Joe Mattock (foot) and striker Ishmael Miller (thigh) will also miss the Anfield trip.

But the Baggies completed the signing of Marc-Antoine Fortune from Celtic yesterday. The French-Guyana forward has been registered in time to play in tomorrow’s clash subject to international clearance.

Di Matteo said: “I’m delighted to welcome Marco back to the club.

“The great thing about this signing is that it won’t take him long to settle in because he knows the club inside out. He also knows what this league is all about.”

Fortune joins former Lokomotiv Moscow forward Peter Odemwingie, who hit the winner against Sunderland last weekend, in signing for the club this summer alongside Boaz Myhill, Nicky Shorey, Gabriel Tamas, Somen Tchoyi, Pablo Ibanez and Steven Reid.

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