Rodgers unconcerned by Ba return

Demba Ba's return to Anfield with Besiktas will not bring back any bad memories for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has played down the impact of Demba Ba's first return to Anfield since his goal for Chelsea last season, which all but ended the Merseyside club's title challenge.

Ba - now with Besiktas - made the most of a Steven Gerrard slip to open the scoring in Liverpool's costly 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield in April.

Liverpool subsequently lost out to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title, and Ba is now set to return with Besiktas for Thursday's UEFA Europa League last-32 clash.

Rodgers played down the significance of the forward playing at Anfield again, telling a news conference on Wednesday: "It won't stimulate any bad memories for me.

"Besiktas have good players, a front four with Demba Ba at the top of it. It's a team that is used to winning and have made it hard for English sides.

"But we want to do everything we can to win a trophy. It's a very prestigious competition and this is a tough game with Besiktas. We want to take a lead away [to the second leg]."

Liverpool skipper Gerrard will be absent from Thursday's first leg with a hamstring problem but the fit-again Daniel Sturridge will likely lead the line for Rodgers after his recent return from injury.

Rodgers paid tribute to Sturridge, adding: "He hasn't just been recovering in terms of his injuries, he's been analysing his game.

"What's been brilliant for me is he's come back and taken on a real leadership role as well.

"He's come back and you can see him at corners organising and making sure people are doing their job, as well as the wonderful ability that he has."