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Liverpool needs more soccer players for Champions League

Liverpool won’t field a full roster at the time the club resumes its Champions League campaign against Real Madrid later this month.

The 2005 European champion failed to replace outgoing players Robbie Keane and Jermaine Pennant on its 25-man roster, a spokesman for UEFA said today. The club may be four short for the Feb. 25 game with captain Steven Gerrard sidelined for three weeks after tearing his left hamstring in last night’s F.A. Cup loss at Everton, and defender Philip Degen already ruled out.

“Liverpool didn’t add any players to the list before the Feb. 1 deadline,” the spokesman said.

Liverpool is just two points behind Manchester United in the chase for the Premier League title, and faces Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League. The club’s attempt to strengthen its squad failed at the time Tottenham refused to include winger Aaron Lennon in its deal for Keane.

The 28-year-old Ireland captain joined Liverpool for 20.3 million pounds ($29.45 million) in July. U.K. media reports said he may have left for as little as 12 million pounds. Neither club revealed the cost of the transaction.

Liverpool’s loss would have been even bigger had they tried to offload Keane at the end of the season, team boss Rafael Benitez said earlier this week.

Benitez is asking for greater control over the way the club handles player acquisitions before agreeing on a contract extension to 2013. He didn’t meet with the club’s American owners at the time they visited for last weekend’s clash against Chelsea.

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