PREVIEW By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Daniel Sturridge has been axed for Liverpool’s first European semi-final in six years.
Jurgen Klopp has demoted the England international to the bench for the first-leg of the Europa League last-four clash against Villarreal in Spain.
Roberto Firmino has got the nod to spearhead the attack in place of the injured Divock Origi, who is facing an uphill battle to play again this season after damaging ankle ligaments last week.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 28, 2016
Sturridge has scored in each of Liverpool’s last four Premier League matches but he has been named as a substitute for the third consecutive Europa League knockout encounter.
Origi led the line in the two quarter-final matches against Borussia Dortmund, scoring on both occasions.
Kolo Toure has got the nod over Martin Skrtel to partner Dejan Lovren in defence in the absence of Mamadou Sakho, who has been suspended for 30 days by Uefa after it opened disciplinary proceedings against him following a failed drugs test.
Skrtel is on the bench after playing just 135 minutes since December following a difficult recovery from a hamstring injury.
Lucas returns to the team to anchor the midfield, where he is partner by Joe Allen, who has been given the chance to continue the excellent impression he has made in recent months.
With Divock Origi, Jordan Henderson and Emre Can all out injured and facing uphill battles to play again this season, James Milner is set to start on the right side of midfield.
Christian Benteke is named in the matchday squad for the first time in over a month after recovering from a knee injury.