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Liverpool FC boss Roy Hodgson holding on to Champions League belief

by Richard Buxton. Published Fri 10 Dec 2010 13:24, last updated: 10/12/10

Roy Hodgson believes that Liverpool can secure a top four finish this season if they can continue to replicate their recent performances.

Seven points separate the Reds from the final Champions League qualification place Manchester City currently occupy after losing just two of their previous six games in the Barclays Premier League, signalling a halt to their early season freefall.

Although Hodgson acknowledges the enormity of the pressure both he and Liverpool placed upon themselves earlier in the campaign, he remains confident of continuing the upturn in results required to qualify for Europe's premier club competition next season.

"I'd like to think that if we can continue to play as well as we've played recently that we can get closer," he said.

"But we've given ourselves an enormous catch-up and I prefer to take it one batch of games at a time at least and see where that brings us.

"I was hoping that by the turnaround we'd be at least in the top half of the table. We are at the moment."

Tomorrow's trip to Newcastle comes on the back of a difficult few days for the hosts after owner Mike Ashley restarted the managerial revolving door at St James Park by sacking Chris Hughton in favour of Alan Pardew.

It is also Liverpool's penultimate domestic fixture before a hectic Christmas schedule which will see them play four games in 11 days, and Hodgson is hopeful that the points gulf will be far shorter by the time they take on Wolves on December 29.

He added: "I hope we will be in four games' time and then I'm hoping we won't be so far away from the top four that a good second half of the season will give us a good chance to get in there.

"But when you are next to bottom after seven games, you've given yourself an enormous handicap. There's only 38 games in a season and seven is quite a lot of them."

Fernando Torres will return to the side after missing Monday night's win over Aston Villa to be with his wife for the birth of their second child.

Expected line-ups:

Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, S Taylor, Campbell, Jose Enrique; Routledge, Guthrie, Nolan, Gutierrez; Carroll, Ameobi.

Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Konchesky; Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas, Maxi; Torres, Ngog.

Referee: Lee Mason

Kick-off: 5.30pm

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"get rid of koncheski kuyt ngog and lucas and we might have a chance" tonythetruth, merseyside around 4 years, 7 months ago

"liverpoolfc will win by 2-0. say liverpoolfc for life" friday agbomah, kano, Nigeria around 4 years, 7 months ago

"liverpool will be in the top 4. lfc has all the potential .n i believe lfc will be in top 2.because u will never walk alone." vaqas nadeem, rwp around 4 years, 7 months ago

"TORRRREESSSSSSSSS TO SCORE A HAT-TRICK " sumeet, sharma around 4 years, 7 months ago

"Should be a cracking match to watch!" magnumopus, Valkenburg around 4 years, 7 months ago

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