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Hodgson denies fringe players playing for Liverpool futures

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson denies players are playing for their futures in tonight's Europa League tie with Steaua Bucharest.

Injuries have ruled out Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger, while Hodgson opted to rest Fernando Torres, Maxi Rodriguez, Raul Meireles, Glen Johnson and Paul Konchesky.

It gives the likes of Ryan Babel, who is linked with a move in every transfer window, and Milan Jovanovic, who is still followed by rumours of a return to Standard Liege after just four months at Anfield, a chance to impress.

Reserve team youngsters Dani Pacheco, Nathan Eccleston, Danny Wilson, Jack Robinson and John Flanagan have also been included in the squad.

But Hodgson stressed that it would be unjust to judge individuals on their performances and in the final group game in a fortnight's time, because so many of the club's first-choice stars were absent.

"It would be too much to ask. I don't think it would be fair," he said.

"I think if you are going to be judged in that way you need to be playing with a large number of the more established players.

"I don't think it is correct to judge people too much when many of them are playing together and are obviously fairly inexperienced at this level.

"I wouldn't want to say they are playing for their long-term futures but I think they have a great opportunity to show me that what I am seeing in training they are able to be produce on the field in important matches when push comes to shove.

"I am very interested to see some of the players who, if not making their debut, at least playing one of very few games that they have had for the club during my time here."

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