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Aug 19, 2010

Hodgson backs Reina for Anfield redemption

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has told Jose Reina to forget his weekend goalkeeping howler as they prepare for Thursday's Europa League play-off against Trabzonspor.

Reina fumbled the ball into his own net to gift Arsenal an equaliser in Liverpool's first Premier League match on Sunday, and he'll be standing in between those same posts at Anfield as the Reds try to establish a lead in the first leg of a potentially tricky tie.

Hodgson refused to blame Reina for the blunder and he has backed last year's player of the season to deal with the disappointment of the error as any professional would have to.

"If you are a goalkeeper and you can't live with a mistake you make then you'll never have a career at any level,'' said Hodgson. "There is only one certainty in football if you are a goalkeeper, and that is one day you are going to make a mistake which is going to let in a goal. It may cost your team some points. When you put your gloves on you know that.

"If you are a good goalkeeper it doesn't happen very often and more often than not you come off the field with people congratulating you on winning points for the team. It was a mistake, he understands that. We feel sorry for him because he took it hard but he is a strong character. Let's hope he's forgotten it as quickly as I have forgotten it.''

Reina will probably be relishing the chance to make amends so quickly, and another player who will be keen to get onto the pitch will be Joe Cole, who was sent off on his Liverpool league debut against Arsenal. With the club having decided not to appeal against the red card, the England midfielder must now serve a three-match domestic suspension.

Hodgson said: "In an ideal world you would have a case for an appeal but with the way the rules are set up you have got very strict codes on which you can appeal. We were concerned they might increase the ban and that would have been even worse. It is disappointing but these things happen in football.''

The unsettled Javier Mascherano will not feature due to a calf injury while defender Daniel Agger will not be risked after suffering concussion against Arsenal. New signing Christian Poulsen is in contention to start while Fernando Torres is also pushing for a starting place after a substitute appearance on Sunday.

Having led Fulham to the Europa League final last season, Hodgson again intends to take the competition seriously but admits it is not his top priority.

"If you are going to prioritise you would prioritise the league always,'' he said. "That might even go for teams playing in the Champions League but we take it very seriously and we will be doing our best to play well and win the game.''

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