Christian Benteke left behind as Brendan Rodgers rests stars

Liverpool striker Christian Benteke is one of a number of big names rested by Brendan Rodgers for tonight’s Europa League opener in Bordeaux.

The €44.5million summer signing has been left behind on Merseyside along with fellow new arrivals James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne, plus first-choice centre-backs Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren and midfielder Lucas Leiva.

That means Mamadou Sakho is set for his first appearance of the season alongside Kolo Toure in what is likely to be a much-changed back four.

Up front, Belgium striker Divock Origi is in line for the first start of his Liverpool career while midfielder Adam Lallana has returned to fitness and is also in contention.

Captain Jordan Henderson has undergone a specialist procedure in the United States in an attempt to cure an ongoing heel problem.

The midfielder travelled to America on Monday to seek expert advice from New Jersey-based Dr John Cozzarelli. He is believed to have undergone a procedure which involves a series of injections, but has not had surgery. No date has been set for his return to action.

Having score the winning goal in Tottenham’s first league victory of the season on Sunday, Ryan Mason will be absent tonight for the Europa League clash with Qarabag having suffered a knee injury chipping home Erik Lamela’s pass at the Stadium of Light.

He is joined on the sidelines by Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele but Pochettino is likely to name a strong team, with Harry Kane in contention to start as he searches for his first Tottenham goal of the season.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris insists he remains committed to Tottenham but insists they must do better in Europe this season.

The 28-year-old goalkeeper has been handed the captain’s armband at White Hart Lane after a summer when he was constantly linked with a move away from the club.

Manchester United were believed to be ready to bid for the former Lyon stopper if they lost David De Gea to Real Madrid – but the Spaniard remains at Old Trafford and told beIN Sport earlier in the week he too was happy to stay put.

But the France international wants to see more from the team in continental competition this year with the club having not made the quarter-finals since 2013.

“I think European competition is always important when you are a player,” he said.

“Each game is important and we know tomorrow we need a first win because the next two games are away against very good teams in Anderlecht and Monaco.

“We expect a tough game because European competition is always hard so we need to be focused and have the mentality of winning.

“I expect more from Tottenham and I expect more from me as well. We need to go as far as possible in the competition.

“There is also a possibility to get to the Champions League if you go to the final and win the final. It is so far away that we are focused on the group stage and the target is to finish first.” Charlie Mulgrew will miss Celtic’s Europe League group opener with Ajax on Thursday night because of a thigh injury, Hoops assistant manager John Collins has announced.

The Parkhead defender suffered the injury in Saturday’s 2-1 Ladbrokes Premiership defeat by Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Speaking at Glasgow airport before the Celtic squad flew out to Amsterdam, former Parkhead midfielder Collins said: “Charlie is the only one not here. He has a thigh muscle injury, so we’re still waiting on confirmation of the scan result but it looks like it will be a few weeks.

“It is a blow, he’s an experienced player. He’s played in a lot of big games so we just hope he has a speedy recovery.”


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