Liverpool, Dortmund battling injuries

A below-strength Liverpool embark on a tricky UEFA Europa League tie at Steaua Bucharest on Thursday with Roy Hodgson's side requiring a point to ensure qualification for the last 32.

Captain Steven Gerrard's hat-trick against Napoli in their last Europa League run-out pushed Liverpool to the top of Group K on eight points, with Steaua three points adrift in second. The inspirational Gerrard, though, is facing a further three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, and on Tuesday he was joined in the sick bay by Jamie Carragher.

The defender is out of action for three months after undergoing surgery on a dislocated shoulder suffered in Sunday's 2-1 Premier League defeat at Tottenham. Carragher's fellow centre-back Daniel Agger is also unavailable with a calf problem.

Aside from that trio, Fernando Torres is to be rested with Hodgson mindful of Liverpool's mid-table position in the league and the important fixture awaiting his team next Monday against Aston Villa. The Liverpool boss plans to deploy Danny Wilson at the back in place of Carragher - the 18-year-old stand-in's only previous appearance since signing from Rangers was in Liverpool's League Cup defeat by Northampton.

Hodgson told "Martin Kelly and Danny Wilson will start against Steaua Bucharest and it's a great opportunity for them to stake a claim to be in the first team. Not being able to take the points we deserved against Tottenham has kept us in a mid-table position so the next games coming up are going to be very important.

"I've got to be careful not to risk too many of the players I want out on the field against Aston Villa. Torres won't travel. I can leave maybe as many as six or seven players who I expect to start against Aston Villa out of the team. It means on paper I'm taking a weakened team, but I believe people like Joe Cole, Ryan Babel, Milan Jovanovic, Danny Wilson, Christian Poulsen and Jonjo Shelvey are more than capable of doing a good job for Liverpool Football Club."

German challenge
Liverpool are not the only team in action with injury concerns, as Borussia Dortmund will be without their top scorer Lucas Barrios for their game against Ukrainian outfit Karpaty Lviv. German league leaders Dortmund are lying third in Group J on five points, and will be eyeing a maximum harvest from this home tie against a team that are at the foot of the table and without a point. Paraguay international Barrios has picked up a knee injury, denying him the chance to play against Karpaty and the weekend Bundesliga date with Nuremberg.

Sevilla, UEFA Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, are top of Group J on nine points but will be without Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano for the trip to Paris Saint-Germain, a point behind in second. A win for Sevilla will ensure them a last 32 ticket as group winners.

Already-qualified Porto are at Rapid Vienna, with Besiktas also set to extricate themselves from Group L if they come away from their trip to CSKA Sofia with all three points. CSKA Moscow are also assured of Europa League action next year and they will be joined from Group F by Sparta Prague if the Czechs get something from their tie with Palermo.