TORONTO – Asked who he was most looking forward to lining up against on Saturday when Toronto take on Liverpool (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer/Sportsnet), Terry Dunfield didn’t have to think long before going with England captain Steven Gerrard.
Unfortunately for Dunfield, jockeying with Gerrard for space in the center of the park isn’t in the cards after all.
Liverpool announced on Friday that due to FIFA regulations regarding mandatory vacation dates following international tournaments, England internationals Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Martin Kelly, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll as well as Spain’s Pepe Reina and Italy’s Fabio Borini would not feature in the Toronto leg of their North American tour.
All but Reina are scheduled to join the club in the US next week for matches against AS Roma on July 25 in Boston and Tottenham Hotspur on July 28 in Baltimore.
That may come as a disappointment to fans in Toronto, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said there would still be plenty of star power at the Rogers Centre come Saturday afternoon.
“I think we have a lot of big players here. These are some of the core of the group that are going to be very important for me, along with some of the stars of the future I believe in our young players,” Rodgers said. “Of course, we have some players that are not here, but there’s a purpose and reason why they’re not here. They need to recover and recover well.
I don’t think it takes away anything from the players that I’ve got. I’ve got top international players, players that are multi-skilled and players that will fight for the shirt. It’s been a privilege to work with them these first few weeks. I’m sure the supporters will see that effort, that commitment and that quality in the game.”
Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez and Welsh attacker Craig Bellamy will also miss out on the tour while participating in the Olympic Games in London.