Saturday, June 23, 2007

Carson To Fight For Place In LiverpooL Squad

Rafael Benitez has confirmed that England under-21 goalkeeper Scott Carson will return to Liverpool next season.

Benitez loaned Carson out to Charlton Athletic for the duration of last season in order for him to experience regular first-team Premiership football.

And despite being relegated with Alan Pardew's men, the England under-21 regular was voted the club's player of the season after a string of fine performances.

Carson's stock has also risen after playing regularly for the under-21s but Benitez insists that he will not sanction the shot-stopper leaving on another season-long loan this year.

"I was speaking to Scott recently and I told him he will be part of our first-team squad next season," the Spanish tactician told Liverpool's official website.

"He must fight with Pepe Reina now for a starting place. We knew when we fought off Chelsea to sign him he was a talented goalkeeper.

"He got some good experience last season and now he is coming back to us."

Carson recently set a new record for caps won with the England under-21s when he was part of the team that were knocked out by hosts Holland in the semi-finals of the European Championships.

The 21-year-old saved one penalty in the marathon 32-kick shootout, eventually won by the Dutch 13-12.

Will LiverpooL Match The Asking Price For Torres?

Liverpool's hopes of landing Fernando Torres have hit a setback with Atletico Madrid refusing to budge from their £27million asking price.

The Spain striker, 23, has emerged as a prime target for Kop boss Rafa Benitez this summer.

However, Torres' club have insisted the star player will only leave if the buy-out clause in his contract is triggered.

The Reds are prepared to offer Luis Garcia — a former Atletico player — as a makeweight in the deal but the sides are still some distance apart in their valuation.

Benitez knows if he gives them the asking price it would blow a huge hole in his summer transfer budget.

And Liverpool sources have suggested they will not go the full way — even though they are desperate to sign a world-class goalscorer.

Yet Atletico are unlikely to climb down as they do not want to part with their prized asset despite the fact Torres has indicated he fancies a move to Anfield.

Speaking last month, president Enrique Cerezo said: "We always have the same problem.

"Every year, either at the start of the season, midway through or at the end.

"It is the same. Torres is an Atletico Madrid player and I think he is going to remain with the team for many years. He is very well at Atletico Madrid, the fans want him and we want him.

"Neither is he for sale nor do I think he is going to leave."

If the Reds fail to land Torres it would be another blow in what has been a frustrating summer for the Kop.

The millions of pounds promised by new owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks have yet to be turned into big-name signings.

Liverpool's interest in Charlton's England striker Darren Bent has also faded as they do not believe he is worthy of the £17m price tag.

Benitez hopes to off-load French striker Djibril Cisse to Bolton for around £6m.

This will free up funds to spend on West Ham & Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun, 27.