Friday, September 30, 2011

Dalglish: New Boys Ready For Derby

Kenny Dalglish today insisted Liverpool's derby debutants will be well-prepared for the task of taking on Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime.

The likes of Luis Suarez, Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson and Sebastian Coates could acquire their first taste of a Red versus Blue encounter when the boss leads his side across Stanley Park for the 216th meeting between the teams.

However, Dalglish is confident the derby experiences those players have picked up elsewhere will stand them in good stead.

He told his pre-match press conference: "I think Rangers against Celtic will have given Charlie a good grounding. For Andy, the north-east derby isn't to be undermined either, and for Stewart Villa against Birmingham isn't the smallest of derbies, is it?

"They may not have experienced one of these derbies before, but everybody has experienced a derby of some sort.

"Even for Luis (Suarez), the derby he's been involved in in Holland will have been frenetic as well. Every derby starts the same way.

"I don't think there is anybody who will be involved with us on Saturday who would undermine or be surprised by what they come up against.

"That's very important and although they might not have experienced the derbies here, they have somewhere else and they were equally as important to them when they were playing in them as what this one is."

He added: "We know what a victory in a derby means to the people of Liverpool and we know how much elation the players would get from it.

"There are some players who haven't played in it before that might play on Saturday, but I'm sure they understand what this football club stands for."

Liverpool's preparations for the short journey across Stanley Park were bolstered on Thursday by the news Daniel Agger had returned to training at Melwood following a rib injury, while Glen Johnson edges ever-closer to a comeback meaning Dalglish has a near-fully fit squad to choose from.

Earlier in the week, Dirk Kuyt spoke about the strength of the Reds squad and his determination to regain a regular starting berth - and the gaffer is delighted by the attitude and work ethic of his players.

Dalglish said: "Dirk works very, very hard - and so does everybody. We're not going to get anywhere without people working hard in training because it's an important part of preparation for games.

"Everybody has been a tremendous credit to themselves in the way they've conducted themselves in training and the effort and commitment they've put into it.

"If you want to play, you've got to do that. If you do, then when you're given your opportunity, it's much easier for you to succeed.

"We keep saying we've got a stronger squad than last year, so that means the competition will be greater as well. The better the players play when they're given the opportunity, the better the competition will be.

"We're happy with that and it stands us in good stead to have a strong squad. I don't think there is anybody here who is not competing for a first-team spot, and that's great for us."

A veteran of the Merseyside derby, Dalglish is well aware of the joy success in the fixture can bring to either the red or blue sides of the city.

However, ultimately the boss knows that obtaining three Premier League points is the most important aspect of the contest as Liverpool look to build on last weekend's 2-1 win over Wolves.

Dalglish said: "For me a win is a win and for them (Everton) a win is a win. It will get us three points and a bit of bragging rights. How much it means to them, I am not in a position to judge and you'll have to ask them yourself - but for us it is very important to win games.

"We've got to earn anything we want to get in life and we'll certainly need to work hard to get anything from Goodison on Saturday. If we want to get three points, then we'll need to stand up and be counted because I'm sure they'll make it very difficult for us.

"We'll try to play the way we want to play and at the same time stop them playing the way they want to. I'm sure Moysie (David Moyes) will be saying the same thing.

"The most important thing for us is to be confident, composed and have belief we can win the game. It is up to us to get that into our players and get them to believe it. We'll be totally committed to getting a result - and we know we have to be or we won't get anything.

"We'll compete as best we possibly can. The preparations have gone excellently and we look forward to it."

He added: "Moysie has done a fantastic job and we've got a great deal of respect for David Moyes and also for the football club.

"He's a good lad and we know him well, but come Saturday the two of us will be rivals and that's the way it should be. Afterwards we'll have a drink and move on."

As both player and later manager, Dalglish contested some classic Merseyside derbies during the 1980s - including two FA Cup finals at Wembley.

Reporters were keen to hear the Reds manager's favourite memories of the fixture ahead of the latest showdown.

"The most poignant one was the '89 Cup final - not just for Liverpool because we won it, but for the whole city of Liverpool," recalled Dalglish.

"Another was the first (Cup final) in '86 when we saw fathers going to the game with their kids, one in red and white and one in blue and white.

"Both Cup finals spoke volumes for the city about how they (the fans) conducted themselves and how much the clubs meant to them.

"They're the most vivid derby memories for me."

Meanwhile, journalists asked Dalglish about Liverpool's defensive record so far in 2011-12.

He replied: "I wouldn't say we're worried about it, but it's always nice to have your opposition with a 'nothing' after their name, isn't it?

"It's something we've got to continue working on, but if we keep scoring more goals than the opposition then fine.

"Last week against Wolves we might have been under pressure a little bit and got a couple of tackles in around the box, but for me we had by far the greater and most chances in the game. It looked more likely that we would have extended our lead than lost it.

"If you keep scoring goals, it makes it more difficult for the other team, but certainly losing no goals makes it a bit easier for ourselves as well as scoring at the other end.

"If you want to get points, then it's helpful not to lose any - but I wouldn't say we've got a problem with it."

Kuyt Predicts Suarez Improvement

Dirk Kuyt has been impressed by how quickly Luiz Suarez has adapted to the Barclays Premier League, and expects the Liverpool striker to become even better.

Suarez has scored eight times in 21 appearances since his move to Liverpool from Ajax in January, and Kuyt knows how difficult it can be to make the transition from Dutch to English football.

Kuyt himself moved to Anfield from the Eredivisie - having joined the Reds from Feyenoord in 2006 - and has been amazed by how easily Suarez has slotted in.

“What people seem to forget about Luis is that it really is a very big step to come from Holland and the Eredivise there,” said the 31-year-old.

“It's a huge step, and it's really difficult to be a success straight away. The style of football is different, and the pace is different too.

“He has done brilliantly from the very beginning, and he has become a very important player for Liverpool."

Kuyt also believes Suarez will continue to improve as the Uruguayan becomes more familiar with the rigours of the English game.

“But it is my belief he will be even better in the future. He's a great player already, but it still takes time to settle in, coming from Holland," he added.

“He's still young, so he has time on his side to get used to new team-mates, and to get used to the Premier League properly.”

Dalglish Gives Injury Latest

Kenny Dalglish has confirmed that Daniel Agger has returned to training for Liverpool, with the centre-back close to a full recovery from injury.

Agger left the pitch with a fractured rib in Liverpool’s match with Tottenham a week and a half ago, and many feared he would be out for at least three or four weeks.

But now Dalglish insists that Agger is close to being included in the squad once more, along with Glen Johnson, who suffered a hamstring problem.

"Daniel Agger is back training today and Glen Johnson is on his way as well,” Dalglish said.

"Everybody else has trained fully."

After Steven Gerrard made a return to action for Liverpool against Brighton in the Carling Cup, and came on again for the Reds against Wolves the following week, the skipper looks closer than ever to receiving a place in the starting line up.

But Dalglish is still insistent that Gerrard won’t be rushed, with the manager desperate to keep his star midfielder as fit as possible in preparation for the rest of the season.

“The game is not the important thing - Steven Gerrard is more important,” Dalglish explained. “As we've said before, we'll manage Steven as well as we possibly can."

Liverpool play Everton this weekend in the Merseyside derby, and the match will mark Dalglish’s return to Goodison Park for the first time since he managed Liverpool to a 4-4 draw with the Toffees, and resigned days later, in 1991.

Distin Plots Suarez Shutout

Sylvain Distin has sung the praises of Luis Suarez, but the Frenchman does not fear the Liverpool striker as the Merseyside derby approaches.

The Reds cross Stanley Park to face the Blues at Goodison Park on Saturday, as Kenny Dalglish returns to the dugout for the derby for the first time in 20 years.

The Liverpool boss quit shortly after he saw his side draw 4-4 with Everton in 1991 and the weekend is sure to be an emotional affair.

Distin, meanwhile, has earmarked Suarez as the man likely to be the ringleader of Everton's tormentors, but expects to be able to deal with the threat of the 24-year-old.

“Luis seems to be a great player, an amazing player with great quality who can score goals. But he won’t be the first great striker I have played against," the Toffees centre-back told the Liverpool Echo.

“I have been here for 10 years, I don’t know how many games I have played, but I have played against players like Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Fernando Torres. I could give you 50 names of top strikers I have played against.
“I played against [Edin] Dzeko and Aguero last weekend, so it is just going to be another good challenge, and one which I will enjoy. I can’t wait.

“I actually think Aguero and Suarez are very similar in the way they are built physically, and the way they play. It will be another good test.”

Liverpool Ready Shock Bid For Former Arsenal Midfielder

Liverpool are reportedly watching former Arsenal midfielder Havard Nordtveit with a keen eye, as the Borussia Munchengladbach youngster continues to impress in the German Bundesliga.

The news is surprising given Nordveit’s inability to break into the Gunners first team despite serving there for three years, but reports are emerging that Arsene Wenger reluctantly sold the Norweigian as he realized the youngster needed more first team opportunities.

Nordtveit was sent out on loan moves to Salamanca, Lillestrom and FC Nuremburg, becoming a more important asset to each club every time he moved.

Eventually signing for Borussia Munchengladbach at the end of 2010 for just £800,000, Nordtveit has since developed into a competent player, earning his first cap for Norway and establishing himself as a key first team player for his new club.

With Liverpool trying to rebuild for the future, the club have identified 21-year-old Nordtveit as a potential defensive focal point for the team. The youngster is versatile – he can operate from a central defensive or midfield position – and fits the criteria set out by Liverpool owners the Fenway Sports Group, who claim new signings must be young enough to have a potential re-sale value.

Reports are suggesting that Nordtveit currently has a valuation of £5 million, though it has been suggested that Borussia Munchengladbach will hold out in the hope that Liverpool’s interest can spark a bidding war with other European clubs. Featuring 20 times already for the German side since arriving, they will not be keen to lose a player who has progressed impressively in a matter of months.

Roma To Rival Liverpool For Teenage Brazilian Star

Roma have emerged as Liverpool's strongest competition to land Brazilian star Lucas.

The talented playmaker, not to be confused with Liverpool's Lucas Leiva, is one of the most wanted teen stars on the planet.

Full name Lucas Rodrigues Moura da Silva, the 19-year-old was courted by Liverpool back in the summer as Damien Comolli searched across the globe for reinforcements.

Sao Paulo, however, were adamant Lucas would not leave in the summer and they have been true to their word.

But there is a growing feeling at the club that they will be unable to hold on to Lucas for much longer as he is keen to move to a major European league.

While Liverpool still admire the player, Roma are the latest to express an interest and sporting director Walter Sabatini is eager to schedule meetings with Sao Paulo ahead of the January transfer window.

Roma feel by scheduling meetings with the club and establishing a relationship would give them the edge over Liverpool.

Lucas, now a full Brazil international, has not expressed a preference for a specific club but Roma are confident they can persuade him to move to Serie A instead of Anfield.

South American Starlet Plays Down Liverpool Move

Bologna's highly rated midfielder Gaston Ramirez has played down talk that he is leaving the Rossoblu, amid reports Liverpool are leading the chase for his signature reports

The 20-year-old Uruguayan international is the latest South American starlet to be linked with a move to the Barclays Premier League.

Sources indicated last month, that Ramirez was on Reds boss Kenny Dalglish's radar, and the Merseysiders could look to tempt him into a move to Anfield to link-up with fellow compatriots Luis Suarez and Sebastian Coates.

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli has been instrumental in improving club liaisons in Uruguay, having recently announced a partnership with club Nacional.

Speculation linking the Reds with a January bid for Ramirez continues to gather pace, but the player remains unperturbed by the constant rumours, insisting he is happy in Italy.

"This summer there was talk of many things that are not true," he told local Italian press. "There are just journalists who invented things.

"I have never spoken, and if I did it would have fed what they said. I want to be here in Bologna - I'm fine and they are nice to me."

Jordan Henderson Is Looking To Create His Own Legacy At Liverpool

Jordan Henderson laughs when he hears a comparison between himself and Steven Gerrard.

It is not that he finds the parallels between both players absurd - they are both two versatile box-to-box midfielders – but Liverpool’s highest-priced signing of the summer - at a reported £20 million - has his own ambitions. He wants to create his own legacy at the storied club.

"It’s not a bad comparison but I think Steven Gerrard is Steven Gerrard and I think I just have to be myself," Henderson explained exclusively to "I have to do what I do best and not concentrate on anyone else."

The 21-year-old has said that Gerrard is his favourite player but that’s not the reason why he came to Anfield. Speaking to as part of Umbro’s Geometra Boot campaign, he admitted that leaving Sunderland, the club where he rose from an academy player to professional star, was a tough decision considering the Tyneside club's fans are equally passionate as those on Merseyside.

But Henderson knew that in order to become one of the the Premier League's top players, he would have to join one of its biggest teams. The challenge of bringing success back to Liverpool, a club with great tradition which hasn’t won a domestic title since the year that he was born, in 1990, was too good of an opportunity to ignore.

"Liverpool is a massive club and I thought this would be a massive opportunity for me," said Henderson.

"They’ve got some great players and the history speaks for itself. I think the main thing going to Liverpool, was it was another chapter [of my career] and I wanted to prove myself as a player."

Inconsistency has plagued the Reds since their stunning 2005 Champions League’s win over AC Milan in Istanbul. The opening of this season has been no different. Liverpool have at times played tantalizing football and secured quality wins over Bolton and Arsenal, but at other times have looked out of sync, playing uninspiredly in a 1-0 defeat against Stoke and flat out terrible in their 4-0 rout by Tottenham.

Liverpool sit fifth in the Premier League table with 10 points in six matches, but Henderson acknowledges that the aim has to be much bigger.

“Obviously, it would be nice to finish in the top four,” said Henderson, who has one goal so far this season.

More than anything, time and patience is the biggest factors that will eventually lead the Reds from a good team to one of England’s elite, according to Henderson.

In addition to Henderson, Liverpool signed Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique, Craig Bellamy, Sebastian Coates and Stewart Downing this summer. Add those names to the club’s expensive outlays in January in forward tandem Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, and it is easy to understand why the new-look team has struggled at times.

There is obviously a lack of coordination and chemistry, even though Henderson says the locker room support among players has been great. Once that translates on the pitch, manager Kenny Dalglish’s vision for the club will be realized, says Henderson.

"The atmosphere's been good and the lads are getting on well so I think there's a lot of new faces and we need to just get together and keep going," the midfielder said.

He added: "I think we’ve showed some good things [so far]. Obviously, there has been a lot of new signings on the team that is still trying to get together but we’ve put together some good results. When things come together, we'll start winning more games."

As for Dalglish, count Henderson as one of his fans. The young player says that he understands how the Anfield legend has transitioned so seamlessly back into management in spite of the demands of today’s modern players.

"He treats everyone with respect and he expects players to treat him with the same respect," said Henderson. "He's great with the players because he was a player once, he knows how to handle players in the way he speaks to them and treats them."

A central midfielder during his time at Sunderland, Henderson has been used by Dalglish in a variety of positions, but primarily on the right side of the midfield, hoping to take advantage of Henderson's electric pace to add width. The adjustment has shown some promise and Henderson says the most important thing is that he is on the field contributing to the team's results.

"It's a good thing to be able to play in a few different positions but the most important thing is that I'm picked," he said. "All I want to do is play football. As long as I’m in the starting XI then it doesn't matter where I fit."

In addition, Henderson believes that his two greatest strengths as a player, his work rate and eye for creating goals, will allow him to develop well in the role. Last season, he created 82 goal-scoring chances for his Sunderland team-mates, the fourth highest in the Premier League.

"I think I bring a lot of energy to the team and passing as well," he said. "Obviously, when I'm playing in a wide position, I try to deliver as much as I can to the strikers and hopefully I would think I'm okay at that but I'll keep working to get better."

Henderson might have downplayed the comparison between himself and Gerrard but that doesn’t mean that he is not hoping to learn from the Reds icon. Prior to joining Liverpool, Henderson trained with the 31-year-old before making his first cap with England in a friendly last year against France.

Gerrard, who started alongside Henderson, calls that period a great experience. Now that the two are team-mates, he expects that the club captain will guide him in becoming a more complete player.

"To be training with him every day and hopefully playing alongside him, in the end it will help me and bring me further as a player," said Henderson.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Steven Gerrard Could Return Against Everton

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has been told that he must decide himself whether he is ready to start a Premier League game.

The England international could return at the weekend in time for a derby day clash against Everton after coming on in the last two Liverpool games against Brighton and Wolverhampton.

Liverpool have had a mixed start to the season and currently find themselves in fifth place with manager Kenny Dalglish hoping to push for a top four finish and Champions League football.

Fans certainly want the inspirational midfielder to return as soon as possible but Dalglish's number two Steve Clarke has declared that Gerrard will have the final say.

"Steven himself will dictate the pace of his comeback with how he progresses in training," said Clarke. "We're delighted with the stage he's at. We're delighted with everything he's done for us.

"It was one of those games on Saturday where towards the end you're looking to make a change, but you don't want to make it and disrupt your team because we had decent control of the game. We could maybe have got Steven on a little bit earlier, but it didn't work out that way.

"We've got a full week now and we can use him well in training."

Liverpool Eyeing Lyon Full-Back But Face Fight With Juventus

Liverpool and Juventus are locked in a battle to sign Lyon defender Aly Cissokho.

Cissokho, 24, has been strongly linked with a switch to Anfield but the move never materialised during the summer.

Kenny Dalglish will have to act fast to sign the French international as Juventus are also keen to sign him when the transfer window re-opens in January.

Reports in France today suggest that both Liverpool and Juventus sent scouts to see him in action during the Champions League game against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night.

Lyon are desperate to keep Cissokho at the club, but are unlikely to stand in his way if they receive a sizeable offer for his signature in the new year.

Enrique Eyes Improvement

Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique is pleased with the start he has made to his Reds career but claims there is room for improvement.

The Spanish star joined the club from Newcastle in the summer and he has had an impressive start but is targeting champions League place and a spot in the Spanish squad for the Euro 2012 finals and knows he will have to improve to try and achieve that.

"To get the fans with you, you have to play well," Enrique said. "At the moment I think I've done well but I can do better.

"I have to improve of course. Sometimes I think about my mistakes and I want to kick myself.

"I'm like every person - I know when I've done good things and I know when I've done bad things. In football it's the same. I always think about my mistakes.

"I watch videos of other left-backs. I like Ashley Cole a lot - I think he's one of the best left-backs in the world.

"Others too, like Marcelo.

"I think if I keep improving I can be there (with Spain). I haven't gone yet because it's really hard to go - we won the last World Cup and the last European Championships, but I hope in the future I can be there.

"When I signed here I wanted to play Champions League football with this club and also to try and go to the national team.

"If I go I'll be happy but for me the national team is an extra. It's important but for me it's my club first."

Adam Relishing Reds Career

Charlie Adam struggled to focus on his career after missing out on a January transfer to Liverpool and is therefore grateful to have eventually secured his dream move to Anfield.

The Scotland international left Blackpool this summer to join Kenny Dalglish's remodelled squad having previously been a target in the winter window, when his former club refused to sell.

Tottenham also made an attempt to sign Adam in January, but the midfielder only wanted to sign for Liverpool and, ahead of this weekend's Merseyside derby, he is relishing the opportunity.

Speaking on a podcast for fanzine, The Liverpool Way, Adam said: "When the January window passed I never thought it would come back again.

"I never heard anything for the rest of the season and thought that was it. I was just concentrating on Blackpool, but fortunately Kenny Dalglish gave me the opportunity to sign in the summer.

"The first I knew it could happen again was when the bids came in and I told the chairman Liverpool was the only club I was interested in. Fortunately he did the deal with Damien (Comolli) to let me join the club."

He added: "I had to get my head around the fact I was not a Liverpool player, I was still a Blackpool player. That was tough.

"I am not going to lie about it. It was tough for a few weeks after that too. One thing I was never going to hide was the fact I wanted to join Liverpool.

"Once the opportunity was there it was an honour for me to be even linked with the club. When the manager and chairman made the decision I could not leave in January I respected that.

"I knew my staying could have helped Blackpool stay in the league, but when you reach a stage of your career where there is a chance to play at a higher level, you know you might not get it again and want to grab it with both hands."

Liverpool Send Scouts For German Wonderkid Striker

Sven Goran Eriksson is ready to offer Leicester City's teenage wonderkid Jeffrey Schlupp a new deal in a bid to scare off interest from Stoke and Liverpool reports the Daily Mirror.

The German U19 international has been in impressive form for the Foxes this season, with four goals to his name already attracting attention from a number of Barclays Premier League scouts.

Liverpool director of football Damien Comolli is a known admirer of up-and-coming talent, and is believed to have cast his eye over Schlupp with a view to a potential move to Anfield.

However Reds boss Kenny Dalglish could face competition for his signature from the Potters, as Tony Pulis continues to look for ways to strengthen his Britannia Stadium squad.

"There is no doubt that Jeffrey has a great future ahead of him," said Eriksson. "He is a fantastic talent and he is just getting better and better.

"This season he is even stronger, more confident. He has a little bit of everything. He is strong, has good technique, a good left foot and is not afraid to fight in the air for the ball."

Schlupp only signed a new contract at the King Power Stadium in April, but the Leicester boss is pushing for the player to be offered a bumper pay-rise before Liverpool or Stoke step up their interest.

Malaga Set To Raid Liverpool With A £20 Million Offer

Malaga are preparing an offer for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina in what is being reported as an offer too good to refuse for the Merseyside giants.

Malaga have a new rich owner who is beginning to pump serious money in to the club and Manuel Pellegrini, the Malaga manager, has been told that he can go out and bring in almost any player he wants and he has apparently marked the Liverpool keeper as his first choice for the position between the posts.

Reina still has a good few years left in him at the top and his regarded as a high quality keeper, Liverpool will be loathe to lose the 29 year old but it all depends on the offer and with £20 Million being touted around Spanish radio, then yes, that is far too good to refuse.

Malaga are ready to spend some serious money to try and compete with the big boys in Spain and have seen the Man City model, paying over the odds and crazy wages, catapult the Manchester side in to the Champions League and are set to embark on the same crazy route, despite Uefa’s new financial rules.

Reds Sign Council Partnership

Liverpool Football Club today signed a unique partnership with Liverpool City Council to help ready young people in the north of the city for future careers.

Reds Managing Director and Cllr Joe Anderson, leader of the city council, launched the joint venture at Melwood on Wednesday morning.

It will see Liverpool and its foundation support the council's drive to provide opportunities for young people in training, education and other related initiatives taking place in the community.

Ayre said: "Through our foundation, we support young people throughout Liverpool every day and we are delighted to create this new partnership with Liverpool City Council.

"Young people are the future of our city and by working closely with agencies and the local communities collectively this partnership will help them achieve their goals."

The first initiative the partnership will run is the Youth Ambassador program.

The scheme will provide 50 young people aged 16-19 who live in north Liverpool the opportunity to act as city ambassadors on Reds matchdays.

They will promote the city to visiting football supporters, support the delivery of youth activities through LFC's foundation, and promote the positive role young people can play in the north Liverpool communities.

In addition, the youngsters will receive a program of training from the club's foundation that will support their future employment prospects.

Cllr Anderson said: "Liverpool City Council will always ensure that young people are at the heart of the regeneration of this city.

"This partnership with Liverpool FC is a great example of how investing in today's youth can bring massive benefits to our communities for years to come."

Ann O'Byrne, Cabinet member Housing and Community Safety, added: "During these difficult economic times it is even more important that we work in partnership with other organizations to develop opportunities for the young people of Liverpool.

"I'm really pleased and excited by this partnership which will bring together both organizations' shared values and strengths to deliver and support the delivery of youth provision that the young people in north Liverpool want."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Steve Clarke defends Liverpool's Average Start

The Liverpool first-team coach, Steve Clarke, says the club's "average start" to the season is partly due to the changes taking place within the squad. The side has 10 points from six matches after losing at Stoke and Tottenham.

At a similar stage last season their tally was six and discontent was growing against the manager, Roy Hodgson, whose reign lasted six months when he was sacked in January.

As part of the overhaul, financed by the owners, Fenway Sports Group, and undertaken by Kenny Dalglish on his return to take charge of the club, seven players were signed in the summer with numerous others heading in the opposite direction.

Most of those new arrivals have featured in most of the opening matches and while Liverpool have played well in patches they are still to consistently produce their top form.

"Without getting too carried away or too disappointed it's probably just an average start," said Clarke. "You're probably looking at about a seven out of 10. Some pleasing performances and some not so pleasing, but you'd expect that from a group of players where you've made so many changes and you're trying to bed a few things down."

One of the key factors in picking up three wins has been the form of the four-goal striker Luis Suárez, with seven of Liverpool's 10 points coming in matches when he has scored. The 24-year-old was voted fans' man of the match for the fifth time in eight games this season (he has played in both Carling Cup ties) after Saturday's win over Wolves.

But it is the Uruguay international's determination to do well – highlighted by his frustration when he was substituted 10 minutes from the end at the weekend – which has equally impressed.

"With any top player the mentality is always that bit stronger. That's what separates them," Clarke said. "There are a lot of good players at this level and the really, really top ones have got that mental edge that drives them on all the time and produces the kind of performances that we've had from Luis so far.

"He's very grounded. He comes back in on Monday morning and works as hard as ever in training, he upsets all the defenders, scores a couple of goals and that's what he's all about. He trains like he plays – absolutely, every day. He loves to be playing football and that's a great thing."

Suárez was replaced by the captain, Steven Gerrard, making his first Premier League appearance for six months after a groin operation. The return of the England midfielder, who added to his 15-minute Carling Cup appearance last Wednesday, is a boost to everyone at Anfield.

He is lacking in match sharpness and this weekend's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park may come just a little too early for him to make his first start of the season. However, that will not stop the Huyton-born 31-year-old pushing for a place in the lineup.

"Steven himself will dictate the pace of his comeback with how he progresses in training," added Clarke. "We're delighted with the stage he's at, we're delighted with everything he's done for us. We could maybe have got Steven on a little bit earlier [against Wolves] but it didn't work out that way. We've got a full week now and we can use him well in training."

Liverpool Enter Race For £20m Brazilian International Striker

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is set to join Premier League rivals Tottenham in the hunt for Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao, according to reports on

Tottenham have been linked with Damiao throughout the course of the summer transfer window and it is now believed Liverpool is prepared to enter the race for the 22-year-old.

Dalglish was one of the busiest Premiership managers during the transfer window and added Craig Bellamy to January signings Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

It is believed Damiao's current club Internacional have valued the forward at £20million and a number of top clubs from around Europe have also showed an interest including Barcelona, Inter Milan and Porto.

So far this season the Brazilian international has scored 39 goals in all competitions and is expected to be subject of a bidding war when the January transfer window opens.

Speaking earlier this month Damiao said: “If there is an opportunity to play in Europe, of course I would like it."

Dirk Kuyt Frustrated After Losing Liverpool Starting Place

Dirk Kuyt has spoken of his disappointment at losing a regular starting place at Liverpool but accepts the club had to improve competition for places to challenge for honours once more.

The Holland international has started only half of Liverpool's six Premier League games this season as the manager, Kenny Dalglish, seeks to integrate the £20m summer signing Jordan Henderson into the team and utilizes his options up front. Kuyt's absence has surprised many given his form under Dalglish last season and contribution this term, and the 31-year-old admits it has been difficult to adapt to his changing role.

"I'm disappointed to be out of the team," said Kuyt, who returned to the bench against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday having started and scored against Brighton in the Carling Cup. "From childhood, I've always been disappointed when I'm not in the team because I'm desperate to be involved and make a good contribution. But it also makes me very determined too. I need to continue to prove myself, train as hard as possible and, when I do play, make sure my performance is of a high standard."

Despite the personal cost, the former Feyenoord striker admits Liverpool's squad now has the depth he encountered upon his arrival at the club in 2006 and required substantial investment following the final draining years under the former owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

He added: "Competition is tough now but it's brilliant for the club that there are so many players to choose from now, top-class international players. The players realize at the end of the day you need more than 11 good players to be successful.

"When I first arrived here we had a very good, big squad but for the last two seasons before this one, we haven't had the depth that we did in the first three seasons. Someone like Craig Bellamy is a strong addition to what is already a very strong squad, and that can only be good for the team. We definitely have better quality now and more players to choose from as well. I think with the signings we've made, we have a great squad now so we should be ambitious and have confidence in ourselves."

Henderson Needs More Time - Lucas

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has defended new signing Jordan Henderson and urged critics of the England Under-21 international to be patient.

Henderson has started seven of eight matches this season, only sitting out last week's League Cup win at Brighton, but has struggled to impress despite scoring against Bolton last month.

He has been substituted four times already and a number of poor performances have led to criticism of the 21-year-old.

Having been through a similar process after signing from Gremio in 2007, Lucas knows only too well about being a target for supporters.

In the seasons that followed he turned things around and insists Henderson can do the same.

"I don't blame the young players because I've been in their place for a few years," said the Brazil international.

"He is English and knows the Premier League but to come to such a big club like Liverpool is really hard. We have to encourage him and try to give him confidence to keep improving.

"Don't rush him a lot, give him time to settle and I am sure he will be a good player in the future."

Liverpool Midfielder To Be Sent On Loan To Gain First Team Experience

Liverpool are prepared to let midfielder Jonjo Shelvey leave the club on a short term loan deal as they attempt to give the youngster a chance to play first team football.

Shelvey was signed from Charlton in the summer of 2010 and despite arriving with a big reputation has so far struggled to force his way into the starting eleven.

The 19-year-old has made just four starts in his 22 appearances for the club and with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lucas, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson all battling for a place in centre midfield he has found opportunities hard to come by.

Liverpool is keen to let the midfielder move in order to gain some first team experience and a host of Championship clubs have immediately signaled their interest.

Cardiff, Coventry, Hull, Birmingham and high-flying Middlesbrough have all shown an interest in the England youth player and will hope to land the midfielder in the coming weeks.

Bolton Keen On Loan Move For Shelvey

Bolton Wanderers are set to make a loan move for Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey once the transfer window opens in January.

The 19-year-old has struggled to get a place in Kenny Dalglish's squad so far this season and has only made 22 appearances for the Reds since joining them from Charlton in 2010.

At the moment he's behind the likes of Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing, Lucas and Steven Gerrard in the pecking order at Anfield, so it's understood that Liverpool are happy for him to go to a fellow Premier League club to gain more experience and confidence of playing at the highest level.

And nowhere could his potential be harnessed more than at the Reebok where under Owen Coyle, Bolton have helped develop Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge over the last two years, both players now regulars when fit at their parent clubs Arsenal and Chelsea.

Joe Cole Eyes Permanent Move To Lille

Joe Cole has admitted he would be happy to make a permanent move to French side Lille at the end of his season-long loan from Liverpool.

Following a frustrating season at Anfield in which the midfielder struggled to make an impact, the 29-year-old moved to the Ligue 1 champions in search of regular football.

"I talked to manager Rudi Garcia and he has the same game philosophy that I have, so I really wanted to come," Cole told L'Equipe.

"You have to make choices in life, and it was certainly not the simplest to me. The easy options were to remain in London or England.

"But I was excited. We are competing for the national title and I can play in the Champions League.

"Finally, it is a young team with great guys that really play good football and I have always dreamt of playing abroad."

He added: "Will I remain at Lille next season? That is possible. They are happy with me, and vice versa, so why not?

"We have started to build a bridge. I really love to play here. I hope it will be a success for everyone."

Cole believes that English players would benefit from moving abroad and experiencing different styles of the game.

"The English players get experience abroad which can enrich our national team," he said.

"In Italy, France or Spain, the game style is more Latin.

"The Premier League is not the best competition; it is just different and unique. Some people told me I was right to go abroad."

Cole scored a stunning goal for the French side in the 1-1 draw with Lorient on Saturday, and has enjoyed a successful start to his new club, even receiving a standing ovation from fans in his last match.

The midfielder has been absent from the national team for some time, but his recent form at Lille will cause many to question whether he should be put back in the side, although Cole admits this is not a priority for him.

"Will Fabio Capello watch Ligue 1? I hope so," he continued.

"It is not my major concern so far. First, I want to be consistently good.

"If I get called back into the national team, I would be the happiest man. I love to play for my country.

"When I lived in Chelsea, everyday there were paparazzi in front of my door. At Lille, I can walk in the streets confidently. People are polite and respectful. It is great to enjoy the city freely.

"Anyway, in England you are forced to deal with the press, you don't have any choice. If I had any choice, I would have liked to never be famous. We are just footballers, aren't we?

"At Lille, I found quality players with unequalled joie de vivre in the changing room. I enjoy myself and I have fun every day. There is a great atmosphere. It reminds me of my first season at Chelsea."

One man who has particularly caught Cole’s eye since joining the French champions is rising star Eden Hazard, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League, and is certainly one to watch for the future.

He continued: "Everyone is talking about him in England. Hazard is the best young player I have ever seen at such an age.

"He has everything to become one of the best players in the world."