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Mascherano set for Hodgson meeting
Published : 26 Jul 2010 11:20:00Rss feed
Javier Mascherano met up with new Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson for the first time on Monday after returning to pre-season training. The Argentina captain has been uncontactable since going on holiday after the World Cup but was back at Melwood on schedule along with compatriot Maxi Rodriguez. Hodgson tried to speak to the 26-year-old, who has been heavily linked with a summer reunion with former Reds boss Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan, following the end of the player's involvement in South Africa. However, the 62-year-old Englishman was only able to leave messages for Mascherano telling him he was looking forward to meeting him back on Merseyside as his calls were not returned. Hodgson will outline his plans to Mascherano in much the same way as he has already done to senior players Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Fernando Torres in an attempt to persuade him he has a future at Anfield. But there still remains a nagging doubt that the combative midfielder, who was offered a new contract in the latter stages of last season, has set his sights on a move to the continent. Neither Mascherano nor Rodriguez will be available for Thursday's Europa League third qualifying round first leg tie against Rabotnicki in Macedonia. However, Hodgson admits he may have to field a number of his other World Cup stars earlier than he would have liked. The club's medical staff have warned their manager bringing the likes of Gerrard, Carragher, Glen Johnson, new signing Jole Cole and Daniel Agger back too soon may have dire effects later in the season. Unfortunately, a largely reserve side has failed to score in two pre-season friendlies and Hodgson admits he may not be able to afford to take the risk of not using senior players. "I don't know what to do at this stage," he said. "I will have to liaise with them and (head of sports science) Peter Brukner and make a decision by Tuesday on what sort of team I can put out. "I can promise the Liverpool fans we will put out the best possible team, without compromising the future. "It is going to be a difficult discussion between myself and Peter because his feeling is we shouldn't use any of them and I am going to be tempted to say I want to use quite a few of them. "The only players I will take will be the ones that I definitely think will play a valuable part in the game. "If we are talking about senior players, it would be players prepared to start the game. "I would not take Steven Gerrard there to play for the last 10 minutes as a substitute." One senior player who will be available is midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who sat out Saturday's friendly defeat to Kaiserslautern with a knee problem. "Peter Brukner told me he ran for the first time on Saturday so I would expect him to be fit for Thursday," added Hodgson.