Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gerrard And Agger To Return

Roy Hodgson has confirmed Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger are fit to face Blackpool on Boxing Day.

Gerrard has been sidelined in recent weeks by a hamstring injury sustained on international duty with England last month, while a calf problem has kept Agger out of action since September 25.

However, the pair are set to return to action for the trip to Bloomfield Road.

Hodgson told his pre-match press conference: "Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger are fit.

"It's a big boost going into five games in 15 days, which is a season-changing period for every club in the Premier League.

"Steven would have been fit to have played against Fulham as well, so it doesn't hurt to give him an extra week so he can get some more training in.

"But what he needs now is to play matches and unfortunately the chance to play a match was missed because of our game against Fulham falling victim to the weather."

Jay Spearing and Jamie Carragher are Liverpool's only absentees for the Blackpool clash.

Hodgson added: "There are only two players unavailable to me. Jay Spearing, who suffered a break in a bone above his ankle, is still out for another month I think.

"Jamie Carragher is, if we are to believe the doctors, still nine weeks away from coming back. But knowing Jamie, it would not surprise me if it was a lot less than nine weeks."

David Ngog Seeks Revenge Over Blackpool On Boxing Day

Liverpool forward David Ngog has claimed that he and the rest of the team are desperate to exact revenge over Blackpool on Boxing Day for the Tangerines' sensational win at Anfield earlier in the season.

Ngog has assured any doubters that Liverpool have recovered from their early season slump and will be in top form on Boxing Day.

"That defeat was a bad result, especially with it being at home and we want to prove we can do better and win this game," Ngog told the club's official website.

"The team wasn't so confident and we didn't play very well but I think we are a different team now to that game. We are a lot better and more confident and we hope we can show that on Boxing Day.

"Blackpool has done really well this season. They have played some good football and they have shown they can surprise any team on their day.

"They are a tough team and but if we play well then I'm sure we can beat them."

The Frenchman went on to admit the Reds' away form has been a worry: "We know we must improve our away form and hopefully we can do this starting with a win at Blackpool.

"At Anfield we get a lot more possession and we can dominate teams and away it is more difficult, but if we want to be at the top of the league then we have got to start winning away."

Liverpool's £11 Million Wing Wonder Target Could Be Available 'On Loan'

Reported Liverpool target Adam Johnson could be on his way out of Manchester City next month.

According to the Daily Mail, Sunderland are attempting to sign the 23-year-old 'on loan' for the remainder of the season, as well tabling a bid to sign Nedum Onuoha on a permanent basis.

However, should Johnson become available, Liverpool are thought to be in the running for the England winger who has grown increasingly frustrated at his lack of regular football under Roberto Mancini.

Last month the former Middlesbrough star - who signed for City for around £11 million in January - let his frustration get the better of him, admitting he may have to leave Eastlands in order to fulfil his ambitions.

Johnson told the Telegraph: "Every footballer has to think about it when the time comes. It is still early but I definitely would consider [leaving]."

These comments placed Liverpool - and others - on red alert and offers for the highly-rated attacker are now expected in January.

Johnson would certainly provide Liverpool with the added potency they so crave after Roy Hodgson admitted to the over reliance on the goalscoring prowess of Anfield stars Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

The Liverpool boss is understood to have identified his attacking ranks as the most in need of reinforcement in the New Year and - along with a bid for Johnson - has been linked with moves for Aston Villa ace Ashley Young and Spurs flop David Bentley.

Hodgson is expected to be backed in the transfer market by new Liverpool owners NESV with upwards of £20 million in his pursuit of fresh blood come January 1.

Along with Liverpool director of football strategy, Damien Comolli, the Reds manager has been keeping tabs on a number of attack-minded players with a view to bringing them to Anfield next month.

Liverpool Plot January Swoop For World Cup Star

Reports have resurfaced suggesting Liverpool could be set to move for Uruguay full-back Jorge Fucile.

According to, the Portuguese media have suggested the 26-year-old defender could be on his way to Merseyside, but Fucile says he is concentrating on the job in hand.

He said: "I am under contract at Porto and my focus is here."

Liverpool have reportedly been closely monitoring the €8.5 million-rated Uruguayan and will no doubt be intrigued by the latest noises coming out of Porto after a club representative suggested the club would closely consider any potential offer.

"It is not our intention to sell, but it is normal that we will study offers if they arrive," a director of the Portuguese club supposedly said.

Fucile began his career at Liverpool FC of Montevideo before moving to Porto in 2007. A starring role in Uruguay's surge to the World Cup semi-final has since earned him plenty of plaudits, and his future has been the subject of speculation ever since.

Liverpool were first linked with a move for the versatile wide man - says - and suggestions that he could move to Anfield come January have become increasingly frequent.

Liverpool is thought to be in the market for defensive reinforcements due to doubts harboured over the long-term futures of Glen Johnson and Paul Konchesky.

Johnson has been linked with a move away from Liverpool ever since a public falling out with Roy Hodgson and - although he soon patched things up with the Liverpool boss - the England international is thought to be plotting an Anfield exit.

Konchesky has struggled to make an impact for Liverpool since being brought to Anfield by Hodgson in the summer and his performances have left Reds supporters growing increasingly frustrated.

Liverpool has also been linked with moves for full-backs Oscar Wendt and Stephan Lichtsteiner when the transfer window opens come January 1.

Hungarian Striker Andras Simon Leaves Liverpool

20-year-old striker Andras Simon has terminated his Liverpool contract by mutual consent and left the club.

The young Hungarian had spent last season on loan to Cordoba, but has never really made an impact on the first team at Anfield, failing to make a single senior appearance for the side.

The player’s agent, Viktor Kovesdi has stated that Rafael Benitez’s departure and the decision of new boss Roy Hodgson to promote home-grown talent in the club’s academy was one of the key factors in Simon seeking a departure.

"The player had a three plus two year-long contract which was extended automatically last summer, but his future became unclear after the change in manager at Liverpool," Kovesdi told

"The successor of Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson puts the English players to the forefront instead of the footballers from abroad.

"This approach can be seen at the reserves because some of Simon's team-mates from abroad have departed from the club lately.”

Alberto Aquilani Keen To Remain At Juventus Beyond This Season

Alberto Aquilani says that he is keen to stay at Juventus rather than return to Liverpool at the end of the season.

The Italian is on a season-long loan at the Serie A club, who do have an option to sign him on a permanent basis come the end of the current campaign.

And the former Roma midfielder, who has impressed this season after recovering from various injuries during his time at Liverpool, is keen to stay in Italy and says that he is rediscovering his best form under Juventus coach Luigi Delneri.

“I’m feeling fine and the injuries are behind me,” Aquilani told the Liverpool Echo. “I have had some difficult moments but with hard work and the help of those who love me I have overcome them.

“Delneri is an excellent coach, prepares us well and has created an excellent team spirit.

“It hasn’t taken us long to become united as a squad and I believe this will help us enormously.

“If Delneri talks about winning the title then there is a reason. We are going through a good period and have to consolidate this week after week.”

Aquilani only started 14 games for Liverpool last season, but while at Juventus, the 26-year-old has earned a recall to the Italy squad and has helped the Turin club to fourth place in the league – just five points behind leaders AC Milan.

Genoa & Hamburg After Liverpool Attacker Milan Jovanovic

Serbia international Milan Jovanovic appears to be on his way out of Premier League side Liverpool with clubs such as Genoa and Hamburg having shown an interest in signing the attacker, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

The 29-year-old left Belgian side Standard Liege on a free transfer last summer in order to sign for Liverpool, but the highly rated attacker has so far failed to live up to expectations at his new club and has mainly been warming the bench.

Therefore, Jovanovic could be on his way out again in the January transfer window. Liverpool has reportedly set a €4 million asking price for the left footed forward.

Genoa have been struggling to find their best form this season and are hopeful that Jovanovic can help turning things around after the winter break.

Hamburg on the other hand is looking for a replacement for Mladen Petric, who has been linked with Stuttgart.

Hodgson Tells Joe Cole He Must Play Any Position For Liverpool

Roy Hodgson has told Joe Cole he must accept any role in the team, not just his preferred position behind the striker, if he is to make an impact at Anfield.

"Joe has to come to terms with the fact that he has come here after an unsuccessful period at Chelsea with high hopes of taking Liverpool by storm and unfortunately it's not happened," said the Liverpool manager.

"If he says 'Well I'm not playing in my right position', then you'd have to ask him what his right position is. If he says the only place he can play is behind the striker, then he is limiting his chances of playing here.

"We also have Gerrard and [Raúl] Meireles who can play in that position, and at the moment quite often we are playing with two strikers. I would be sad to hear him saying something like that, because he would be suggesting he can't do what he has done so often for England and Chelsea, which is playing in a different position."

Hodgson Dismisses Rafa Rumours

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson does not feel threatened by predecessor Rafael Benitez's arrival back on Merseyside, admitting it would be “surprising” if the Spaniard was considered the man for the club's future.

Hodgson has so far failed to win over a large number of fans and speculation about his future has persisted since his side's woeful start to the season.

Benitez's confirmed departure from Inter Milan after just six months in charge is seemingly imminent and his return to the home he kept on the Wirral this week has led many supporters to step up their campaign for his reinstatement at Anfield.

Banners declaring their support adorned a fence outside his house yesterday and one online poll had 65% of respondents expressing their desire to see Benitez back at the helm.

Hodgson, however, remains unmoved and unaffected by the continued speculation.

Asked whether he felt under any additional pressure considering Benitez's proximity, he responded: “None at all, no.”

And when quizzed about suggestions Benitez could be a contender for his job, he said: “You'd have to ask the owners about that. It would be surprising.

“If he was the right man for the job it would have been wiser not to let him go for six months and then have to bring him back again. This job will always be linked with lots of people.

“When you are in one of the top jobs in the country it would be very strange if there were not other people being linked with my job.

“I am sure there are many people who are envious of my job and would like to take my place.”

Benitez left Anfield in June, when former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were still in charge, with a huge pay-off after a seventh-place Barclays Premier League finish.

His relationship with senior figures at the club contributed to his downfall, but many of those have now left.

Hicks and Gillett have been replaced by John Henry and Tom Werner, whose New England Sports Ventures completed a £300million buy-out in October, while the search for a new chief executive is expected to be concluded early in the new year after Christian Purslow — one of Benitez's significant opponents — stepped down two months ago.

Hodgson has been concentrating on preparing his side for the Boxing Day trip to Blackpool after last Saturday's home game against Fulham was postponed because of the heavy snow which fell in the north west.

Bloomfield Road has no undersoil heating and is therefore exposed to the threat of sub-zero temperatures, despite the Seasiders' best efforts to maintain a playable surface.

That only reinforces Hodgson's belief that a winter break is long overdue in England.

“I don't understand the opposition to the winter break,” said the Reds boss, who has also managed in Scandinavia and Italy.

“I come from European football where winter breaks are a necessity and for many years have been accepted as the norm. The insistence everyone plays all of their football month after month without a break and then spend over three months without a game I don't understand any more.

“For me it would make sense to divide the calendar up so you play a certain number of matches, have a break and then play some more matches. Then the break you have between the end of one season and the start of the new one would not stretch from the middle of May to the middle of August.

“I am a fan of a winter break because I think people need a break from the intensity that English football brings.

“I know it is difficult to say when that break should be because you can get good weather in January and bad weather in February, but you don't get that many games called off because of unfit pitches any more.

“The beauty of the winter break is that you have this nice flow to your season where you have a shorter pre-season and you get into the season.

“But then when players are just beginning to get a little bit tired and everything is beginning to weigh down on them you get a month to free your head.

“That month may only be two weeks away from football and two weeks doing preparation, but I think that way you go into the second half of the season so much more refreshed and I think that can only be of benefit to the players and the quality of football.
“The fans don't lose anything because it means the games they would be watching in unpleasant weather conditions in January they are watching in May or the early part of June.”