Rodgers ready to embrace Champions League

Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool will embrace the task of becoming UEFA Champions League regulars ahead of their return to the tournament.

Liverpool host Bulgarian side Ludogorets at Anfield on Tuesday in a game that will mark their first Champions League match since 2009 after finishing second in the Premier League last season.

The Northern Irishman is relishing managing Liverpool in Europe's biggest club competition and, while he is eager to ensure they progress from a group that also contains Basel and Real Madrid, the former Swansea City boss' main focus is to secure the club's long-term future in the tournament.

"We're very excited to be in the Champions League. Five years is a long time to be out of it for a club like Liverpool," Rodgers said.

"Our overriding objective first of all is to qualify and come out of the group. We'll take it one game at a time and aim for three points.

"It is one of the great clubs with a rich European heritage, and the competition needs Liverpool in it.

"The key is to ensure we remain in it for the long term, and it is a challenge that excites us as well - for us there is no fear, we will embrace it."

Rodgers revealed that defender Martin Skrtel will again be unavailable as he continues his recovery from an injury he suffered at Manchester City last month, although the Slovakian could feature against West Ham on Saturday.

"Martin has worked very hard. He joined the group yesterday [Sunday], so he is working well," Rodgers added.

"It's probably too early for this game but after a good week's training he should be ready for the West Ham.

"Apart from that, we're pretty much the same in terms of injuries."

Liverpool were knocked out at the group stage when they last entered the tournament under the guidance of Rafael Benitez.