Friday, January 11, 2008

We're Still In It, Insists Carragher

Though disappointed with their current points deficit in the league, Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher insists there is still hope for their title ambitions yet.

Liverpool fans were hoping that this season would provide their breakthrough in challenging for the league title.

The Merseyside giants have never won the Premiership since its inception well over a decade ago, and as the club with the best league record in England, the fans are eager to return to their former glories.

Vice-captain and fan favourite Jamie Carragher spoke to Sky Sports revealing his feelings on the Reds' predicament.

"Obviously it's disappointing to fall away a bit in the league but we're still only half way through," said Carragher.

"There's still a long way to go. Obviously we're outsiders now but we still want to make a challenge. The season's still well alive.

"It'll be difficult, I'm not kidding anyone. It's not just the points but that there is three other teams above us at the moment.

"There's no point throwing the towel in, just keep going and try and win the next game. By the time there are eight to ten games left we might have pulled half of that back.

"It might be down to five or six points and you might be back in it then."

"We met him at Melwood, hopefully he'll do well for the club," he concluded.

Rafa Benitez's side are poised to sign Martin Skrtel from Zenit, and Carragher welcomes the idea of the new recruit.

"It's probably something that's been needed this season, another central defender, and now he's come in," said Carragher.

"I think we missed out on (Gabriel) Heinze and obviously we've had to wait now until the January transfer window. But the club have got him in and hopefully he'll be a success."

Daniel Agger's Comeback Delayed

Defender Daniel Agger's hopes of making a dramatic return to Liverpool's side at the weekend were almost certainly dashed when the weather postponed his comeback in the reserves on Thursday night.

The Denmark centre-back was scheduled to play Blackburn at Morecambe's Christie Park ground but a waterlogged pitch prevented the match going ahead and manager Rafael Benitez is unlikely to pick the player into Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough with him having no action for four months because of a broken foot.

Benitez, after another taxing week when his position has again been in question, needs to get Liverpool back on track quickly and will now probably stick with veteran Sami Hyypia at the Riverside.

The Finn made his comeback from injury in Sunday's FA Cup third round draw at Luton, where he looked rusty and short of pace.

Now Benitez must decide whether to stick with Hyypia or revert to Alvaro Arbeloa.

Arbeloa and Brazilian fellow full-back Fabio Aurelio, along with captain Steven Gerrard, were both ruled out at Kenilworth Road due to injury.

All three have been battling for fitness this week but striker Fernando Torres, rested at Luton, is expected to return at the Riverside, along with Javier Mascherano and Jose Reina.

Agger, who must wait until January 22 for the next reserve fixture, will no doubt try to impress Benitez in training and prove that despite not playing since September he is worth the risk of being selected without playing in a warm-up match.

"I am almost there but of course I am going to need some playing time," said the Dane.

"Running around on the training ground is not the same as doing it on the pitch but I am almost back to full fitness now.

"I am very much looking forward to getting back. It is not fun being on the sidelines, especially at a club like this.

"There is massive competition for places and it is all about giving your absolute best every time you play.

"It goes without saying that it is hard to do that when you are out, and being out for four months over such a small bone in my foot has been very frustrating."

Liverpool Confirm Martin Skrtel Signing

Zenit St Petersburg's Slovakian international defender Martin Skrtel has signed for Liverpool on a four-and-a-half-year contract.

The 23-year-old centre-half, who has won 15 caps for his country, is believed to have cost the Merseyside club approximately £6.5 million.

Skrtel's new manager Rafael Benitez has high hopes for the Slovakian.

Benitez said: "I think he is a player maybe not many people know about but he played against Everton for Zenit St Petersberg, and he is a centre half that knows the English style.

"He is aggressive, quick, is good in the air and I think he's a very good player for the future and also for the present.

"He is very competitive, but his mentality for me is very good. Watching him in some games his mentality is similar to Jamie Carragher so I think it's very positive for the team.

"Our scouts first knew of him when he was playing for Slovakia and we have been monitoring him since the start of the season.

"We saw him play against Everton in the UEFA Cup match at Goodison and during the last few months we have been checking him closely.

"I don't think he will be ready for Middlesbrough because the Russian league season ended more than a month ago and the last competitive game Martin played was in the UEFA Cup in December.

"He has been training but I don't think that will be enough. He needs to get to know his team-mates and the league but I will look at him in training because he has a very good physical condition."

Liverpool's 10 Most Wanted

The Reds couldn't get him from Man United in the summer but Gabriel Heinze – now of Real Madrid – is the player fans would most like to see at Anfield. David Villa, Dimitar Berbatov and David Bentley are also high on the wish list.

A few weeks ago Liverpool fans were asked to name their "Most Wanted" transfer targets. The response was huge, to say the least with thousands taking part in the discussion.

And after the survey people got hold of the information the list was finally completed. So here, in reverse order, are the players chosen by the Liverpool fans:

10) Matt Taylor (Portsmouth)
9) Nicolas Anelka (Bolton Wanderers)
8) Kaka Kaladze (AC Milan)
7) Morten Gamst Pedersen (Blackburn Rovers)
6) David Bentley (Blackburn Rovers)
5) Dimitar Berbatov (Spurs)
4) Micah Richards (Man City)
3) David Villa (Valencia)
2) Ricardo Quaresma (Porto)
1) Gabriel Heinze (Real Madrid)

What do you think of the players selected? Anyone missing? Anyone on the list who you think shouldn't be?