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Liverpool will not play in Israel

Liverpool FC have been spared a trip to Israel for their Champions League qualifying second leg with Maccabi Haifa which will be played in a neutral place later this month after Uefa decided yesterday that no European matches will be held in Israel during the current conflict.

Indeed, European football's governing body has told the Israeli FA and its clubs to provide alternative venues within another Uefa member association. Liverpool plays Maccabi Haifa at Anfield tomorrow with the return on August 23. The Israeli FA had made strenuous efforts to persuade Uefa to let them stage match in the capital Tel Aviv but to no avail.

"Uefa have today decided in the light of the ongoing armed conflicts in and around Israel, no European competition matches can be played in the country until further notice," Uefa announced.

It's important to say that Thursday's two Uefa Cup second qualifying round first-leg games involving Israeli clubs have been already been rearranged. Hapoel Tel-Aviv will now play their home tie against NK Domzale of Slovenia in the Dutch city of Tilburg while Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv and Lokomotiv Sofia will play in Senec, Slovakia.

In fact, Steve McClaren continued his policy as England manager to develop strong relationships with club managers when he visited Rafael Benítez and Liverpool's squad yesterday. It was a chance for McClaren, who has taken over from Sven-Goran Eriksson, to meet up with the England team members Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Peter Crouch and talk to the Anfield manager.

"I see developing strong relationships with club coaches as a central part of my role and I got a very warm welcome from Rafa and the players," McClaren expressed. "I'm very keen to get round training grounds over the coming weeks and see people face to face. Coming from club management, I know what their challenges and priorities are and it's important to have open channels of communication. I'm very grateful for the positive reception and support I have had so far."

Indeed, last week McClaren was at Manchester United's Carrington training ground to see Sir Alex Ferguson and his side before watching his former club in action against Porto in the Amsterdam Tournament. He was also at St James' Park on Saturday to see Newcastle tie 3-3 with Villarreal.

This week he will take in Liverpool's clash against Maccabi and the Tottenham-Real Sociedad friendly on Saturday before watching the Community Shield between Chelsea and Liverpool in Cardiff on Sunday. McClaren chooses his team on Saturday for next week's friendly against Greece at Old Trafford.
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