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Liverpool boss Klopp explains Shaqiri omission from Red Star Belgrade trip

Xherdan Shaqiri has been left out of Liverpool's squad to face Red Star Belgrade.

There were concerns over the reception Shaqiri would receive in Belgrade following his "eagle gesture" - alluding to his Kosovo heritage - in Switzerland's win over Serbia at the 2018 World Cup.

And manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed the club wanted to avoid any distractions heading into an important Champions League Group C fixture.

Klopp said: "We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that's all.

"We are Liverpool FC, a big club, a football team but we don't have any message further than that. We have no political message, absolutely not. We want the focus to be on a great game of football, free from anything else.

"We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football. So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday.

"I have heard so many wonderful things about the city of Belgrade, and the country of Serbia as a whole, from friends and colleagues who've visited before, so now I'm really looking forward to taking Liverpool there for a great game of Champions League football."

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Freddie Taylor

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