Rodgers plays down Carroll absence

24 August 2012 06:47

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers revealed Andy Carroll missed the 1-0 win over Hearts in the Europa League with a hamstring problem, while confirming he is edging closer to signing Nuri Sahin.

The Real Madrid midfielder has also been linked with a move to Barclays Premier League rivals Arsenal but looks set for a switch to Anfield, with Rodgers hopeful that a deal is imminent.

The manager, who had an own-goal from Andy Webster with 12 minutes left to thank for his side's first-leg victory, said: "Hopefully in the next 24 hours we will get some confirmation on that. It's quite far along. He's a very good footballer."

Carroll failed to make the squad for the play-off first leg in Edinburgh - despite his presence at the stadium - with the £35million striker linked with a return to Newcastle. However, Rodgers says the forward was set to start against Hearts and he remains hopeful he will be fit for Sunday's visit of champions Manchester City.

He said: "Andy was due to start. He had a slight twinge on his hamstring. We had a scan on it and it didn't show a tear, just a slight disruption. We tried to give him 48 hours, let him travel and he trained to see how it was. It was still a bit tight and the medics' advice was it was too much of a risk for him to play.

"It was unfortunate because he has worked well and I know he was desperate to play. Hopefully missing the game will allow him to recover for the weekend."

Rodgers also refused to concede the tie is now a foregone conclusion in the second leg at Anfield next week. He said: "We always respect every opponent. We're not that good to be that complacent to be honest. We've got an awful lot of work to do but I was delighted for the players. Once they got the positioning right in the second half, they were excellent at times.

"It was great for me to see some of the players who haven't been playing so much, some of our young talent as well. All round it was a good win and another clean sheet, which is important."

Hearts boss John McGlynn felt the outcome was harsh on his players. He said: "I think the least we deserved was a draw. The players' effort, discipline and the way they went about the game deserved a draw. It was a bit cruel to lose the goal in such a manner as well. It was a cruel blow. There were a lot of positives to take from the Hearts team."

On next week's clash at Anfield, he added: "It's only 1-0 so you never know. We've got another game on Sunday against Aberdeen so if we can put in a good performance and get a good result, we would go down to Anfield with confidence. We are kind of out of it so we've got nothing to lose."

Source: PA