Thursday, September 09, 2010

Hodgson's Torres Relief

Roy Hodgson today spoke of his relief after Fernando Torres flew back to Merseyside having enjoyed a night off for Spain in Argentina.

Despite accepting Spain's decision to include the Liverpool striker in their travelling squad for the glamour friendly in Buenos Aires, Hodgson was hoping Torres would do no more than warm the bench after netting twice for his country on Friday in Liechtenstein.

The Liverpool manager's hopes were realized as Torres remained an unused substitute throughout his country's 4-1 defeat, and he's now looking forward to including his number nine in his plans for this weekend's trip to Birmingham.

"We spoke to the Spanish coach and they said it wasn't possible for him to skip the trip," said Hodgson. "If he'd done that then a lot of other big name players might have wanted to skip it as well.

"Through fairness they felt obliged to take everybody, but luckily they listened to my plea not to overplay him and the fact he played no part in the game hopefully means he will come back in good shape and be able to work with us instead."

Despite not having regained full match fitness since overcoming the injury he sustained in the World Cup final, Torres has already netted the winner in the Reds' last outing against West Brom and bagged a brace for Spain on Friday night.

"It's a good sign," admitted Hodgson. "He's a goalscorer and a quality player. If we're going to have a good season we need people like him. He'll need more time before he fully recovers from the injury, but he is working very hard, he has a very good relationship with our sports science people and I trust them together to make the right decisions."

David Ngog Could Return From Injury In Time To Face Birmingham City This Weekend

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has expressed his confidence that striker David Ngog will return from a hamstring lay-off in time for this weekend's game with Birmingham City, whilst admitting Dirk Kuyt could spend a lengthy spell out of action.

Ngog withdrew from the France under-21 squad after sustaining the injury but it is thought that the striker's swift recovery will allow him to feature at St Andrew's.

Speaking to the club's official website, Hodgson said: "He has been nursing a problem but is much better now.

"We were obliged to withdraw him from the French U21 squad because when they got together 10 days ago he wasn't fit.

"The French people were very good about that and realized there was a problem.

"I am hoping that he will recover in time for this weekend.

"We have nursed him through and hopefully he will train either today or Friday."

Ngog's recovery presented his manager with some promising news. However, Hodgson received a blow this week with the news that Dirk Kuyt had picked up a shoulder injury during his time with the Dutch national team.

It was originally thought that the forward would face a spell of four weeks on the sidelines but the injury could rule Kuyt out for longer, Hodgson revealed.

"It could be more than four weeks," he said.

"It's one of those injuries where it's very difficult for the doctor to say and I think four weeks is a very conservative estimate.

"If we're lucky it could be earlier, but it could be longer.

"We have to be very careful because it's the type of injury that has to be treated with a lot of respect."

Liverpool & Napoli Are Interested In Udinese Midfielder Gokhan Inler

Liverpool's and Napoli's interest in Gokhan Inler is unlikely to dwindle as both clubs fight it out for his services.

Opponents in the Europa League, the two clubs are set to embark on a transfer battle as Inler's agent Dino Lamberti claims there is potential to join one or the other during the January transfer window.

"January? You can never say no. Inler interests Liverpool also and so it will not be easy for Napoli," Lamberti told Radio Quinta Rete.

"You never know though. If Udinese do badly, and the others pull out... Napoli is an interesting club, but we cannot speak about something which doesn't quite exist.

"Then Udinese will not give him away on the cheap, they want as much as he is worth. Therefore they have the right to set a price."

Liverpool Lining Up Offer For Hamburg Winger Elia

Liverpool is eyeing a January deal for Hamburg winger Eljero Elia.

The 23-year-old winger has been linked with an Anfield switch on several occasions in the past, with former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez a known admirer of the speedster.

Former Fulham boss Roy Hodgson is now reportedly keen to bring the player to Merseyside, with talkSport claiming Liverpool are keeping tabs on the player as they look to strengthen their attacking options.

After failing to land another striker on transfer deadline day, Hodgson has earmarked the player as a potential replacement for Ryan Babel, should his compatriot leave for pastures new in the winter window.

A fee in the region of €10 million could be needed to complete a deal.

Roy Hodgson Pessimistic Over Dirk Kuyt's Chances Of Early Return

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson fears Dirk Kuyt could be sidelined with a shoulder injury for longer than the initial four-week period suggested by the Dutch midfielder.

Kuyt returned to Merseyside on Tuesday after injuring his shoulder while attempting a scissor-kick in training prior to Holland’s euro 2012 clash against Finland.

Although the 30 year-old insisted that he will be back in time to face former club Utrecht in the Europa League on Sept 30, Hodgson admits he is pessimistic over Kuyt’s prospects of returning within a month.

He said: “It could be more than four weeks. It’s one of those injuries where it’s very difficult for the doctor to say and I think four weeks is a very conservative estimate.

“We have to be very careful because it’s the type of injury that has to be treated with a lot of respect.

“It would have been bad enough to happen playing for the national team in a competitive match, but for it to happen in training was even more of a blow.”

Capello Hails Gerrard Form

Fabio Capello believes Steven Gerrard has been 'fantastic' since being switched to a central midfield position.

In recent seasons Gerrard has been regularly deployed on the left-hand side for England and as a support player to Fernando Torres at club level with Liverpool.

However, he has featured in the centre for his club since Roy Hodgson replaced Rafa Benitez as manager and took up a similar role in England's opening Euro 2012 qualifiers.

In the absence of the injured Frank Lampard, captain Gerrard grasped his opportunity in the middle and coach Capello is delighted with the 30-year-old's form.

"For a long time Steven Gerrard played for Liverpool like a second forward. This year he is playing like a midfielder," said Capello.

"He has started to play fantastic. He wins back the ball and then makes really important passes."

Capello must now decide whether to continue with Gerrard in that role for the next qualifier against Montenegro in October when Lampard is likely to be available.

James Milner's suspension for that fixture could force a reshuffle, while Capello also has a dilemma in defence after regular first-choice pairing Rio Ferdinand and John Terry missed the wins over Bulgaria and Switzerland.

"I have always said the door is open for all the players," stressed Capello.

"I have to decide who will come in. After that I will decide who is in the first XI.

"But these players did very well. They won two games and scored seven goals. Also, they created a lot of chances. This is a nice group."

Roy's Pacheco Challenge

Roy Hodgson has challenged Daniel Pacheco to fight for a place in his first team.

With Dirk Kuyt ruled out of action for four weeks with a shoulder injury and David Ngog a doubt for Sunday's trip to Birmingham City with a hamstring problem, the Spanish starlet could get an opportunity.

Liverpool's No.12 is highly rated by Hodgson and he is hoping the former Barcelona youngster will take his chance.

"I thought Dani did very well when he came on against Manchester City in the five or six minutes he played," said Hodgson.

"I also thought he did very well when he came on against Trabzonspor and he made a difference. He is a player that we really believe in.

"He is young but it is great that can keep giving him these opportunities and moments on the field and I think these moments will get even longer as the season progresses.

"Now we are in the Europa League, it is good for me too that I will be able to give chances to the likes of him, (Jay) Spearing and (Jonjo) Shelvey.

"They need games and we will have plenty of opportunities in the coming months."

Pacheco also has a burning desire to repay his manager's faith and added: "I hope I will play a big part.

"I know that I have to keep working very hard in training and I will have to take the chances that the manager will give to me."

Roy Reflects On Summer Deals

Roy Hodgson today declared himself satisfied with Liverpool's summer transfer dealings - and insisted new boys Raul Meireles and Paul Konchesky will prove to be quality additions to his squad.

With the transfer window now closed until January and Liverpool having submitted their Barclays Premier League squad, Hodgson insists he is happy with the players at his disposal and is pleased the Reds were able to act quickly to fill the midfield gap left by Javier Mascherano.

"It was important to sign a quality midfielder when we lost Javier," said Hodgson. "We had half prepared for his departure by jumping in to sign Christian Poulsen when he became available, but it was important for us to keep strong in that area.

"We loaned out Alberto Aquilani and so we are pleased to have been able to bring in Meireles. He is experienced in the Champions League, in international football and has had proven success at Porto. He is an all-round midfielder who is capable of playing in all three of the central midfield positions.

"He has a pedigree which we researched, followed and studied. I followed him at my previous club so it was good when I heard he could be available and that we could do the business quickly.

"He has played a lot of international football so settling into the English game won't be a major problem. Our public are sensible people and they realise that having played all of his career in Portugal, it may take a bit of time. We have that time. He will adjust, but whether it's from the first moment we'll have to wait and see."

One player who won't need time to adjust to life in the Barclays Premier League is fellow new boy Paul Konchesky, who arrived from Fulham on transfer deadline day.

Despite speculation for many weeks that the England defender would be Anfield bound, Hodgson admits he was delighted to finally welcome his former player to the club.

"It was difficult because Fulham were anxious to keep him and were against letting him go," he said. "Our good fortune was he was in the last year of his contract and he made it clear that if they didn't let him go he wouldn't sign a new contract. That was useful for us because otherwise it would have been very difficult to get him.

"There aren't many quality left-backs around in the world, never mind in England - so to find an English one who can go straight into the team without any adjustment problems is a big advantage.

"He is a player I know, a player I have worked with and he knows the way we try to play and the things we try to do. That's another little advantage, but the main reason for bringing him here is because we think he's a good player and he's the right man for the job."

With players arriving on new deals, leaving permanently, and loan deals being struck, Anfield was a hive of transfer activity before the window slammed shut - and Hodgson admits he is much happier with the squad he now has at his disposal.

"We should be very happy," he said. "A lot of hard work has gone in and you have to mention Christian Purslow and Eduardo Macia, who both worked really hard during the transfer window to do the deals I wanted to happen but also to do deals for quite a few players to leave the club.

"We were unbelievably overstaffed when I came to the club and, if the truth be known, we still are overstaffed. It was just as big a job making sure some of the players who never feature for the first team move on and that we limit our squad to players who are either in the frame to play first-team football or who have a bright future who are still anxious to play academy and reserve team football.

"We don't want that middle group who are too old for reserve football but are not serving any purpose for the first team because they never feature."