Liverpool have confirmed they have excluded winger Xherdan Shaqiri from their Champions League squad ahead of their meeting with Red Star in Belgrade.
The two teams will meet on Tuesday at the Rajko Mitic Stadium but Shaqiri has not travelled with the rest of the squad. Liverpool have decided to not take any risks, with Shaqiri of Kosovan-Albanian heritage.
Kosovo is a former Serbian province and Serbia does not recognise its independence and Shaqiri caused controversy at the World Cup when he made a symbol with his hands after scoring.
He was fined for unsporting behaviour and boss Jurgen Klopp admits he does not want to draw attention away from the match.
“It’s a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football,” said Klopp, in a statement on Liverpool’s website.
“We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that’s all.
“We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football.
“So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday.”
The Reds are the hot favourites for the game and they are 9.50 to win the competition outright.