BRENDAN RODGERS admits it is “sad” he is preparing for tonight’s all-important Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens in the Greek capital without Dedryck Boyata.

The defender is not in Athens with the rest of his team-mates for the second leg of the third round qualifier with the tie balanced at 1-1.

Boyata – who has not played since turning out for Belgium in their World Cup Finals match against England on June 28 – has a mystery back injury amid increasing uncertainty about his future.

The player’s agent, Jacques Lichtenstein, claimed the champions had broken promises to his client, who was the subject of a failed £9million bid from Fulham last week.

Asked how much of a distraction the Boyata issue had been, Rodgers answered: “More sad than a distraction.

“He is a player we would have loved to have here with us.

“He is a player who has been with us over the last couple of seasons and at this time it would have been great to have him here.

“But he is not and we need to put the faith in squad who want to be here and want to play for the result.

“And that is my focus, on the players we have just now.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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