Stewart Downing
Liverpool's Downing celebrates with Carroll after scoring his side's second goal during their English FA Cup match against Stoke City at Anfield in Liverpool.

Liverpool will not play their FA Cup semi-final against Everton or Sunderland on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, the Football Association has confirmed.

The Reds requested not to play on the second of the semi-final dates, Sunday, 15 April, as the match falls on the 23rd anniversary of the disaster.

The FA contacted Liverpool before their quarter-final victory over Stoke on Saturday to inform the club that their request had been granted.

Meanwhile, Stewart Downing has revealed he is eager to avoid an unwelcome hat-trick of semi-final failures when Liverpool head to Wembley.

Downing scored the winning goal in Sunday's 2-1 win over Stoke City at Anfield. And the match against Everton or Sunderland will represent the third time in his career Downing has reached the semi-final stage of the competition.

In 2002 Downing, then at Middlesbrough, sat out his side's 1-0 defeat by Arsenal; four years later West Ham knocked out Boro by the same scoreline.

"The semis is the worst place to lose," Downing told the Liverpool Echo.

"I played against West Ham in 2006 and how we lost that one I will never know.

"I was on the bench when Arsenal beat us 1-0 with an own goal so I have lost a couple.

"If you get to the semi-final and lose, I always say that you may as well have got knocked out in the first round because all the hard work means nothing.

"But I'm confident whoever we get, we can go there and get a result. You can see the confidence in the team.

"There is competition for places and everyone is on their toes, itching to play well."