By Adam Date
Brendan Rodgers and his men face the little known Belarusian side FC Gomel in the Europa League third qualifying round tonight.
It will be the ex-Swansea manager’s first competitive game since succeeding Kenny Dalglish at the end of May, and he will be keen to get off to a winning start.
Much has been made about the date of the game. With the Premier League campaign not kicking-off until August 18th it will be a concern of some fans that a match of significant importance is being played over two weeks before the opening game against West Bromwich Albion.
Andy Carroll has not made the trip due to what the club claim is a ‘groin strain’ but his absence will only fuel transfer speculation about the £35 million striker.
The likes of Luis Suarez, Sebastian Coates and Craig Bellamy are on international duty at the Olympics so they also haven’t travelled.
Not much is known about the opposition, and reds fans will be expecting a convincing victory after a winless pre-season tour of North America.
New signing Fabio Borini could feature and will be keen to impress reds fans if he gets the opportunity.
FC Gomel play at the Central Stadion, which has a capacity of around 14,000 and will no doubt be a sell-out when Liverpool come to town.
Their squad consists mainly of Belarusian players, with 18 of their 24-man squad being from the landlocked, Eastern-European nation.
Brendan Rodgers should be looking to get the job done in the first leg, and perhaps play some young players and preserve the fitness of the likes of Steven Gerrard.
With the return leg being at Anfield next week, a significant aggregate lead would really take the pressure off and settle any nerves of an upset being caused.