Eric Cantona
Liverpool haven\'t played at Wembley since an Eric Cantona-inspired Manchester United triumphed in the 1996 FA Cup. REUTERS

Alan Hansen insists Liverpool are well-placed to end their 16-year Wembley absence with a win against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

Premier League leaders City are without a number of key players for tonight's Carling Cup semi-final first leg clash and Hansen believes Liverpool should be regarded as favourites to reach their first Wembley final since 1996.

Liverpool have not played at the home of English football since losing to an Eric Cantona-inspired Manchester United in the FA Cup final 16-years ago.

And Hansen, who won three League Cups in his time at Anfield, believes Liverpool will be confident of ending their barren streak against City tonight and in the return leg at Anfield on 25 January.

"Anything can happen over a two-legged semi-final and the aim for Liverpool is to get a result at City that gives us a great chance of getting to Wembley when we bring them back to Anfield," Hansen told Liverpool's official magazine.

The former Liverpool centre-back insists the Reds did not deserve to lose 3-0 to City in last week's Premier League fixture and backed manager Kenny Dalglish to learn from the defeat ahead of tonight's match-up.

"Kenny will concentrate on the positives from last week's game. There was never three goals difference between the two teams - Liverpool played well and the score line flattered City.

"That said, we lost and Kenny won't ignore that."

Liverpool will be boosted by facing a weakened City side, with captain Vincent Kompany missing through suspension and both Kolo and Yaya Toure away at the African Cup of Nations.

"One of their other stars Yaya Toure is away on African Cup of Nations duty and he will be a big, big loss for them," added Hansen.

"All of a sudden I'm thinking we've got a chance here. With their two most consistent players [Kompany and Yaya Toure], who were also their best players against us in the Premier League game, potentially missing it gives us a better opportunity for progressing."

"As Kenny said himself, all three of City's goals were soft. They all came from mistakes by Liverpool players and obviously such errors need to be cut out."