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The Merseysiders travel to Russia to face Zenit in the Europa League, and their manager says he will discuss the issue of racism from the stands with his players before the game

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says he will warn his players about the racial abuse they could potentially face during Thursday's clash with Zenit St Petersburg in the Europa League.

Concerns have been raised that the Reds’ black players may be targeted by the Russian club’s fans, and the Northern Irishman has said he will discuss the issue before the game.

"I will make reference to it because we have players it maybe could affect, but we are here for football," he told reporters.

"We are very hopeful there will be a terrific game and anything that goes on outside the field will be taken care of.

"I know these are players who want to play and Glen is a very experienced, top international player.

"And young Raheem [Sterling] has been through situations like this [during an Under-21 international in Serbia in October] before.

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"It is something which will very much unite the players and they will become one group. No-one in life wants to see anyone come under any sort of scrutiny like that.

"You go into the sporting arena and hopefully everyone from football, Uefa, referees and officials will support any player it may affect.

"There is no doubt if there is anything like that, which is untoward, then we as a group will do everything we can to support the player or players. We hope it is a game where the officials and Uefa can take care of all that."

The Europa League has also become more important for the Merseysiders and their manager after they were knocked out of the FA Cup and find themselves ninth in the Premier League.

He added: "It is a competition we want to do well in, as it is the last cup competition we are involved in.

"We have put a lot of work in during this competition in the early part of this season and I had it in my mind that, when we qualified, we could have a really good go at trying to win this competition."
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