Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that Steven Gerrard will miss out Besiktas’ visit in the first leg of Europa League’s Round of 32 on Thursday night.
The captain suffered a hamstring injury midway through the second half in the 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur and looks likely to also miss the trip to St. Mary’s on Sunday as the fixture list piles up for the Reds.
“He won’t have a chance for tomorrow and we just need to assess on a daily basis where Steven is at,” Rodgers said during the press conference ahead of the match.
The manager also stressed on the need for Daniel Sturridge’s game time to be managed cautiously as the striker hasn’t still returned to full fitness despite scoring twice since his five month injury lay off. The England international scored against West Ham in the Premier League on his first taste of action since August before scoring in the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace last weekend.
“He’s been analysing his game, taking on a leadership role and has wonderful ability,” Rodgers said on Sturridge. “He’s top class but still looking for fitness.”
Lucas Leiva will continue to miss out through a thigh injury while Raheem Sterling will face a late fitness test
Meanwhile, Lazar Markovic’s four-match European ban has been deemed very harsh by the manager after a disciplinary committee deemed the Serbian winger’s innocuous red card offence against Basel as something which deserved a greater punishment.
The 20-year-old was handed the suspension on Tuesday by UEFA after getting sent off in the 1-1 draw at Anfield back in December for flailing a hand at Behrang Safari. However, the four game ban comes as something perplexing because Markovic’s fingertips barely touch the Basel player.
“We accept the ban and unfortunately he will have to serve that. He obviously won’t be able to contribute for these coming games,” Rodgers said.
“But in the future he’ll hopefully be able to play many more European games for the club.”
Markovic will be unable to play in the Europa League unless Liverpool qualifies for the quarter-finals though Rodgers has a plethora of options who can fill in at the Serb’s current right wing back position. Youngster Jordan Ibe who was recalled from loan at Derby County in January is expected to start instead of him.
For Besiktas, first choice goalkeeper Tolga Zengin is out injured and Cenk Gonen is expected to start in goal. Ismail Koybasi and Alexander Milosevic are the other two absentees through injury.