Reina absent as Liverpool place focus firmly on European task

Jose Reina
Jose Reina
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Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe insists the club’s players are fully focused on tonight’s Europa League tie with Anzhi Makhachkala and will not be distracted by thoughts of the Merseyside derby.

The Reds make the short trip to Goodison Park on Sunday to face Everton knowing they will fall nine points behind the Toffees in the Premier League if they lose.

Before then there is a European assignment to be tackled with the visit to Anfield of Anzhi, the Russian outfit currently leading Group A after two rounds of fixtures.

Liverpool are third, and having been beaten at home by Udinese in their previous outing in the competition need a win to boost their qualification hopes.

This, according to Pascoe, is the only job the squad is concentrating on for the time being.

“With the next game, it is always the same,” Pascoe said. “The boys are looking forward to Anzhi.

“Everton against Liverpool is a massive game, but it hasn’t been talked about and isn’t being thought about at the moment.

“We are thinking just purely about the game (tonight).”

Liverpool will again be without Jose Reina and the Reds are unsure whether or not the goalkeeper will recover from his hamstring problem in time to play in Sunday’s game.

Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor did not travel with Tottenham for their tie with NK Maribor in Slovenia.

Bale remained at home after his partner gave birth at the weekend, while Adebayor missed out on the trip with a back complaint.

Mousa Dembele (hip), Scott Parker (Achilles), Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul (both knee) are all sidelined.

Newcastle’s Shola and Sammy Ameobi will become the third pair of siblings to start a senior competitive game for the Magpies if manager Alan Pardew gives them the nod against Club Brugge at St James’ Park this evening, after George and Ted Robledo in the 1950s and Matty and Richard Appleby four decades later.

Striker Shola, 31, broke into the first-team squad as a teenager and midfielder Sammy, almost 11 years his junior, has been assured of a start tonight.