• I would be nutcase to agree, says Liverpool manager
Brendan Rodgers has accused Newcastle United of taking liberties by attempting to re-sign Andy Carroll on loan and claimed he would have to be "a nutcase" to offload the England international given the current paucity of Liverpool's attack.
The Liverpool manager is prepared to sell the most expensive English footballer in history to raise additional transfer funds but has not received a suitable offer for the 23-year-old, who is reluctant to leave Anfield. Newcastle want Carroll on loan with a view to a permanent £12m transfer – providing Liverpool pay half his £80,000 weekly wage – but Rodgers says they are the last club he would accept a cut-price deal from.
Rodgers has grave concerns over the depth of the Liverpool squad, although that has not deterred him from resting Luis Suárez, Steven Gerrard, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson for Thursday's Europa League play-off first leg at Heart of Midlothian. He hopes to give Carroll his first start of the season at Tynecastle should the striker overcome a slight hamstring problem and says, with three senior forwards at his disposal, he cannot afford to release the centre-forward without a replacement lined up.
"There is absolutely no chance [of a loan deal] – and certainly not Newcastle," the Liverpool manager said. "Newcastle got £35m for this player last year. To even consider wanting to take him on loan is a liberty really. We have got a very small squad as it is. We have lost a lot of players this summer and I have not replaced them, as of yet. That is the reality of where we are. I need a minimum of three strikers. Once the window shuts, that is it until January. I have got Suárez, Fabio Borini and Andy Carroll. I would need to be a nutcase to even consider at this moment to let Carroll go out, unless there are other solutions for that."
As for Carroll's prospects of a first start under Rodgers, the manager added: "He is due to start but he has felt a slight twinge, so we have had it looked at and scanned. We will see what his response is over the next 24 hours. If he is available and then fit, he will start."
Liverpool appear to have priced Manchester City out of a deal for Daniel Agger, who is suspended for Sunday's home game against the Premier League champions and therefore expected to start the play-off. "I can't see anything at this stage to be honest. He is not a player that I want to lose," Rodgers added. "Like every player in the group, if someone comes in with a big, big offer then that might be out of my hands in relation to the club and where it is at with finances. I have never thought that I was going to lose Daniel. Secondly he doesn't want to go. I wouldn't see us losing Daniel."
Rodgers admits he selected the Liverpool squad with City in mind and, with José Enrique also absent through injury, the youngsters Jack Robinson, Jon Flanagan and Raheem Sterling may get a European start. He said: "I have to protect some of my players. We have a massive game at the weekend. But I trust my players and trust the squad and I have no problems with changing the side around."
The Hearts manager, John McGlynn, believes the timing of the Europa League tie may suit the Scottish club. McGlynn said: "They [Liverpool] are in this transition period with the manager trying to get them to play the way Swansea played. That's not necessary a weakness, but maybe we can take the opportunity. If we were to play them in six weeks and they were further down the line they might be more ready. We're hoping to catch them at a good time. Our flair players must take them on and we'll pick a team along that lines. We don't just want to sit back and hope it's 0-0."
Hearts (4-2-3-1): MacDonald; R McGowan, Zaliukas, Webster, Grainger; Barr, Taouil; Paterson, Templeton, Novikovas; Sutton
Liverpool (4-3-3): Reina; Flanagan, Coates, Agger, Robinson; Henderson, Spearing, Allen; Downing, Carroll, Sterling.
Referee F Meyer (Ger). TV ITV4, 7pm