Stars in short supply as Shamrock Rovers prepare to face Liverpool

Brendan Rodgers and his players can expect a warm welcome at the Aviva Stadium after their Premier heartbreak

Had things gone differently over the last few weeks of the Premier League campaign, Liverpool’s flying visit to Dublin today might have had the makings of one of the game’s great parties.

Instead, something like 45,000 people are expected to fill the Aviva Stadium (5.30pm) and give Brendan Rodgers and his players the world's biggest ever consoling hug.

Liverpool are not hanging around as they arrive this morning and leave tonight. It's quite possible they could have done without this day trip, especially the players who haven't yet been granted a World Cup-related free pass. But there is no summer break for the money men or marketing departments and the six-figure fee they collect will go some small way to funding next year's attempt to go one better in the league.

As of last night, eight of Sunday's starting 11 will be missing although the likes of Joe Allen, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger are expected to travel.

Jon Flanagan, given his standby status, was rated a maybe amongst the organisers yesterday, but 21-year-old Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho is expected to feature.

Fairly dazzling
For their hosts, Shamrock Rovers, who are promoting the game in conjunction with the FAI, Liverpool's cut will look fairly dazzling but the club's chairman Jonathan Roche is under no illusions about their respective places in the great scheme of things.

The Merseysiders earn more on each matchday from tickets and merchandising (around €2.2 million), for instance, than the Dubliners would turn over in a year.

Like his Anfield opposite number, though, Roche sees today’s game as a straightforward way of making a chunk of the club’s annual budget with no particular downside. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll pick up a new fan or two along the way.

“We’re not in Europe and this doesn’t make up for that emotionally or financially but it’s a stop gap and it’s good for the club,” he said.

“We’ve played Juventus and Tottenham competitively in the last few years plus Real Madrid in a friendly and that’s good for everyone involved.

“It’s good for the players, too, to be playing in front of more than 40,000 people in a stadium like this and hopefully a few of the ones who have come to see Liverpool will look at us and think, ‘I’ll go and see them again’.”