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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Reina confident Reds can fire

Mike Whalley

Pepe Reina insists that Liverpool can find the goals to overcome Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League - even without Daniel Sturridge - as they bid to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit.

• Walsh: Chance to unite Anfield

The England international striker, who has scored five times in seven games for the club since arriving from Chelsea in January, is ineligible for Thursday's last-32 second-leg clash at Anfield.

Sturridge cannot play for Liverpool in Europe this season, having already featured for Chelsea in the Champions League. And that has left manager Brendan Rodgers short of attacking options.

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who made an impressive full debut as Swansea were thrashed 5-0 in the Premier League on Sunday, is also cup-tied, having played in the Europa League for Inter Milan. And striker Fabio Borini is set to miss the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder late on against Swansea.

It means that 23-goal top scorer Luis Suarez will have to shoulder much of the attacking burden, but Reina believes Liverpool have the attacking firepower they need.

"We'll be fine," the goalkeeper told Liverpool's website. "There's no doubt the manager will work on that and we will produce a team that is capable of winning the game and go through to the next round.

"As the manager said after the game, the next goal in the tie is going to be vital - and if we can score that goal, with Anfield right behind us, it will be very, very important."

With the away goals rule coming into play should the aggregate score be level after Thursday's tie, Reina is also aware of the need to keep a clean sheet.

"The mentality of the players is different when you go into a game like this because you know you have to win by two or three goals," he said. "We need to make sure we don't concede - that's the first step in trying to overtake them.

"I am really optimistic. It is a very difficult score to turn around, but with the supporters right behind us I think the mentality will be spot on."

Reina insists that Liverpool's fans have a huge part to play in helping to tackle that 2-0 first-leg deficit.

He said: "It's up to both players and fans. We have to show character from the beginning, especially in the first 15-20 minutes to get the people right behind us, but then they will lift us in the weak moments as they always do.

"The fact it is a night game makes it different. Supporters come to the game more excited. It's difficult to explain, but there's a different kind of atmosphere. It will be even bigger and louder if we can score the next goal in the tie, so hopefully we can do that."




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