Brisbane Roar ramped up their pre-season preparations on Monday as Liverpool FC flew into Thailand to start their Tour of Asia and Australia without England striker Raheem Sterling.
Sterling was named on Sunday in the Reds’ 30-man touring squad but did not board the chartered aircraft for the team’s 12-hour overnight flight to Bangkok.
Media reports have linked the 20-year-old Sterling to a £49 million ($A102 million) move to Manchester City, who coincidentally are currently training on the Gold Coast ahead of next week’s International Champions Cup in Melbourne.
Despite the international football spotlight about to swing on Brisbane when the Reds arrive on Wednesday, Roar Head Coach John Aloisi has kept his players firmly focused on their own training ahead of Friday night’s huge game against Liverpool FC at Suncorp Stadium.
A 90-minute session in brisk windy conditions today concluded with a spirited 11-on-11 workout in which the Roar players fine-tuned new formations introduced by Aloisi.
“We are doing things a little bit different,” Aloisi said.
“We still want to dominate possession and dominate the opposition but there are a few things that have changed and we need to put them in place now to build a base to work on for the whole pre-season.
“As exciting as it is to be playing Liverpool, it also is important to use this game as preparation for the Wanderers (FFA Cup) game (on Tuesday, 11 August).”
Aloisi confirmed that the Roar’s new signing Olyroo Jamie Maclaren will make his debut for the club at some stage of Friday’s friendly, which has unlimited substitutions.
“Jamie is looking good, he has already settled in with the group,” Aloisi said.
“He will definitely have a role (on Friday night), he will play some minutes . . . I’m just not sure how many yet.”
But the Roar will be without goalkeeper Michael Theo who is still strengthening his wrist after a final operation six weeks ago to remove the plate that was inserted when the wrist was broken in training last October.
That provides a glorious opportunity for one of the Young Roar keepers – possibly Tom Bilic or Denver Crickmore – to come into the squad as back up for Jamie Young in the Liverpool game.
Liverpool FC flew out of Britain on Sunday evening on a flight specially configured to give each player a sleeping pod. Video of their departure is on LiverpoolFC.com .Midfielder Lucas Leiva said the Tour would be an eye-opener for the club’s new signings – including Danny Ings, James Milner, Joe Gomez and Nathaniel Clyne – who are yet to get a glimpse of the size of the club’s international fanbase.
“Over there (in Asia and Australia) they will have an idea about what Liverpool is about,” he told LiverpoolFC.com .”When you travel so far away from Liverpool and get that reception . . . it just makes you realise how big the club is in terms of the amount of fans. Anywhere in the world you go, you get a good reception.”
Lucas also underlined the importance of using the pre-season campaign to help the recent arrivals adapt quickly to their new surroundings.
“Of course we lost a lot of important players but the players that are coming, they will try to not replace them but try to adapt to our squad and perform the way they did at their previous club,” he said.
The Reds’ touring party also includes former player and fan favourite Gary McAllister, who late last week was named as the club’s new first-team coach.
The Liverpool FC touring squad is: Simon Mignolet, Adam Bogdan, Ryan Fulton, Nathaniel Clyne, Joe Gomez, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno, Kolo Toure, Andre Wisdom, Daniel Cleary, Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Joe Maguire, Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva, James Milner, Pedro Chirivella, Jordan Rossiter, Joao Carlos Teixeira, Jordan Ibe, Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo, Harry Wilson, Adam Lallana, Lazar Markovic, Danny Ings, Rickie Lambert, Divock Origi.