Monday, July 14, 2008

Daniel Agger To Fight For Liverpool FC Place

Daniel Agger has vowed to fight for his first-team place after returning from his injury nightmare against Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

The Denmark international, who played for 75 minutes of the 1-0 victory at Prenton Park, has missed almost 10 months of football with metatarsal problems, with his previous appearance for Liverpool coming against Portsmouth last September.

Agger’s absence has been offered up as an excuse for the Anfield outfit’s failure to challenge for the title last season by his manager Rafael Benitez, who was left with just two senior centre-backs, Sami Hyypia and vice captain Jamie Carragher.

Martin Skrtel was recruited for £6.5m in the January transfer window as cover, with the imposing Slovakian defender impressing in the end of season run-in alongside Carragher as Liverpool reached the semi-final of the Champions League.

And now Agger admits he will have to prove his first-team credentials all over again.

He said: “I feel like I am starting over. You can say that I have missed a lot of football or, you can say that there is a lot to come.

“I didn’t play and that’s how it is. I am focused on this season and I really, really have been working hard to keep my fitness level up.

“Of course, I worked throughout the summer and my target has been to keep my fitness high so that I am ready for the first day of the season.

“The competition for places will be hard. That’s what you expect at a club like Liverpool. I will fight for my place and the rest of the players will do the same.”

The 23-year-old admits the last 10 months have been the toughest of his fledgling career.

“It has been way too long for me,” he added.

“It has been the most frustrating time of my career and I am trying to look forward now and not back on how bad it has been. I am concentrating on this season now.

“I was low, but you have to concentrate on coming back as soon as possible, keep working and that is the most important thing, don’t be sad about what happened but keep looking forward.

“Everybody helped me, but I know myself best and I have a really strong will to get back.”

Agger’s return is a major boost for Benitez, who is confident of tying up a deal for Gareth Barry this week.

“I think Agger did okay,” said Benitez.

“The main thing for us was to see if he could come through and he had no problems so he will be a good plus for the team.”

Several of Gary Ablett’s reserve side produced assured displays in the win, with former Barcelona starlet Danny Pacheco in particular impressing in a lone striker role.

The manager said: “Today I think Pacheco was really good and he had two or three chances and was a threat in attack.” Meanwhile, Jermaine Pennant appears to be heading for the Anfield exit, with Blackburn Rovers boss Paul Ince ready to offer around £3m for the winger.

Aurelio Ready To Fight For Starting Spot

Liverpool full-back Fabio Aurelio is ready to fight for his place in the side following the signing of Andrea Dossena.

Dossena, an Italian international, arrived from Udinese this summer, and along with hot prospect Emiliano Insua, will be challenging Aurelio for the sole left-back slot, something the Brazilian is looking forward to.

"It's good to be back training for the pre-season and I'm hoping to work hard and get as fit as possible to improve my fitness," he told the club's official website.

"At a club like Liverpool there is always massive competition to get into the starting XI because of the players we have for each position, but that is good and it can only improve the team.

"We are trying to fight for every title and we have more possibilities this season."

Aurelio also had kind words for compatriot Diego Cavalieri, another new signing - the third Red Brazilian along with Lucas - and Aurelio believes his club have snapped up the second best goalkeeper in Brazil.

"I know last season he was the second best goalkeeper in Brazil," he continued. "He's a good goalkeeper so he's now got a good opportunity to show what he can do.

"We are trying to help not only Diego but Andrea and Philipp [Degen, another new signing] settle in as well. We hope they can feel good in the dressing room and we all try our best to help everyone as best we can."