ON-loan midfielder Nuri Sahin does not view being asked to help lead an under-strength side’s Europa League challenge as a step down for him.
Last season the 24-year-old Turkey international was playing alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Xabi Alonso in Real Madrid’s run to the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Tonight he will make only his second appearance since moving to Anfield on a season-long temporary deal in a virtual Liverpool reserve side in European football’s second-tier competition against Young Boys in Bern.
“I know maybe in England the focus is more on the Champions League,” he said.
“Maybe it’s because the English teams are getting used to winning trophies in the Champions League: if you look at the semi-finals most of the teams are Spanish or English.
“Every player wants to play Champions League but I am not the type of person to say it is a step down.
“The Europa League is a very good competition also and we will try to go to the end.
“I played this competition with Borussia Dortmund and it is a difficult competition and when the Champions League teams come down after their first group stage it becomes a very good competition.”
Sahin, who needs match sharpness, is one of the few players in a squad with the average age of 21 who has Champions League football experience.
And while he will be seen as one of those expected to help the youngsters through the Group A clash he also has to concentrate on his own game as he tries to force his way into the first-team reckoning.
“I love football and I am happy I can be a part of the game tomorrow,” he added.
“We have a few players who can lead the team but I am one of the players with the most experience.
“I try to lead the team because I play central midfield and I have to take the responsibility and I am glad to do this.
“I want to play every game. Last year I played only a few games and this year I want to play every minute.
“Of course I need games to get to the level I long to be and this is a good chance for me.”
Manager Brendan Rodgers has left behind captain Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Jose Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly with one eye on Sunday’s visit of Manchester United.
It means the likes of Samed Yesil, Suso, Andre Wisdom, Adam Morgan, Jack Robinson and Dani Pacheco will be some of those asked to fill the gaps.