Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he is not taking victory over Hearts for granted despite his decision to rest key players for the clash at Tynecastle.
Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson have all been left on Merseyside ahead of tonight’s Europa League play-off first leg.
That means some fringe players will be involved against the Jambos, with one eye on Sunday’s Barclays Premier League visit of champions Manchester City.
Asked if his squad selection means he sees the match with Hearts as being a straightforward one, Rodgers said: “Not at all. We had a tough game away in Gomel (in the previous round).
“It was a very difficult game and thankfully we won the game 1-0.
“Hearts will be a very, very difficult game for us.
“I’ve still taken a squad here that is a strong group.
“It’s a chance to see some young players but I’ve got some strong, experienced players.
“There are international captains and Champions League winners so it’s still a strong enough squad.
“It will be a difficult game. Tynecastle is a wonderful, tight little ground and supporters will be behind their team and there are some good players.”
He added: “We’ve got a very small squad to be fair so I’ve got to try to protect some of the players.
“We played for over half an hour with 10 men on Saturday as well and we’ve got a massive game at the weekend.
“I trust my players, I trust the group, and whatever team we put out will always be to win the game.”
Hearts boss John McGlynn has warned his team to play the game and not the occasion when they face Liverpool.
Hearts are looking to produce a far better show than at the same stage last season, when they lost 5-0 in their first leg against Tottenham at Tynecastle.
McGlynn took over from Paulo Sergio this summer amid huge cutbacks to the squad, with an experienced spine to the team complemented by many of the youngsters who restored some pride with a goalless draw at White Hart Lane.
And the former Raith Rovers manager will attempt to make sure his players are not star-struck when they face Liverpool in Edinburgh.
“That could well be what happened last year,” McGlynn said.
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