Saturday, December 17, 2011

Suarez Facing Verdict Wait

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez may have to wait until tomorrow to discover whether his defence against a racism charge has been successful after the second day of a disciplinary hearing.

Proceedings against the Uruguay international began yesterday in front of an independent three-man panel but, although more aspects of the case were heard last night, it is understood no decision is imminent.

The 24-year-old has been charged with abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, and referring to his ‘‘ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race’’ by the Football Association.

Suarez has always denied the allegations levelled against him by the France defender and the player and his club were hoping to successfully make a case for his defence at the two-day hearing.

Manager Kenny Dalglish has given the Uruguay international his full support since the complaint was made back in October.

And he did not waver from that stance when asked about the case at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match at Aston Villa.

‘‘We are standing right beside him and helping him as much as we possibly can,’’ said the Scot, who would not comment on reports he planned to appear in person at Suarez’s hearing.

‘‘We have said many times before we cannot say anything which will be prejudicial.

After it’s finished there is a chance to have a conversation.

As I said last week the FA should have given you (the media) the information when everything was happening, not us.’’ Evra made his allegations about Suarez immediately after the match at Anfield on October 15, telling French TV the South American had used a racist insult to him ‘‘at least 10 times’’.

If Suarez, who has always denied the allegations, is found guilty he could be banned or fined, or both.

Evra said: ‘‘There are cameras.

You can see him (Suarez) say a certain word to me at least 10 times.’’ Both players spoke to FA officials during the investigation and there have been suggestions Suarez was unaware language that is acceptable in Uruguay is viewed as racist in Europe.

Liverpool & Arsenal Interest In Asian Genius Denied

Keisuke Honda's agent has denied claims that Liverpool or Arsenal are pursuing the player.

CSKA Moscow's attacking midfielder was heavily linked with a move to England in the summer transfer window, with both Kenny Dalglish and Arsene Wenger reported to be admirers of the 25-year-old.

However, agent Kees Ploegsma has moved quickly to deny the speculation, insisting there has been no contact over a possible move away from Russia.

"There is no interest in Keisuke to report. I have nothing else to add, there is no interest," he told the International Business Times when questioned on Liverpool and Arsenal.

Interest from the Gunners stems back to the FIFA World Cup in 2010, when Wenger described the Japanese playmaker as a 'genius' on national TV.

Following Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri's exits from the Emirates Stadium, Honda once again emerged on the Arsenal radar as the Frenchman looked to rebuild his midfield.

However, the north London outfit instead added Mikel Arteta and Yossi Benayoun on loan, and whilst Park Chu-Young is yet to impress for Arsenal, a move no longer seems likely.

As for Liverpool, they are known to be in the market for players from Asia after chief sponsor Standard Chartered suggested the club would be able to expand their marketing capabilities with a player from the continent.

Chinese youth players have since spent time at Anfield on trial, although a senior international would help Liverpool take major steps into an 'untapped market', as suggested by director of football Damien Comolli.

The IBT goes on to site a recent report in The Sunday Mirror that the player has again emerged on the Liverpool radar, although initial interest stems back to Rafael Benitez's reign on Merseyside, and an offer doesn't appear to be close if the agent's comments are anything to go by.

Madrid Midfielder On Liverpool Loan Radar

Liverpool are being linked with a January loan move for Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra.

The 26-year-old is one of a handful of players in the position to be linked with the Reds, as Kenny Dalglish considers his options following a season-ending injury picked up by Brazilian Lucas Leiva.

Seydou Keita, Yann M'Vila and Sandro have also been placed on the radar, but reports in The Independent claim Liverpool are plotting a loan move on the French international.

Diarra has Barclays Premier League experience from his time at Arsenal, Chelsea and Portsmouth, whilst Tottenham Hotspur were also linked with a move for the player in the summer.

Liverpool was also reported to have an interest at the time, and are once again considering the former Le Havre starlet with the transfer window just 17 days away.

Jay Spearing is expected to fill the gap left by Lucas in the heart of the Liverpool side, whilst skipper Steven Gerrard is yet to recover fully from an ankle injury at Anfield.

A short-term deal is expected to appeal most to Liverpool as their former Gremio starlet recovers from the anterior cruciate ligament injury picked up in the Carling Cup, although it's unclear if Jose Mourinho will be willing to let the out-of-favour central midfielder leave in a loan capacity.

Dalglish Confirms Andy Carroll Will Figure Over Festive Period

Kenny Dalglish has backed the strength of his Liverpool squad as the Premier League nears the busy festive season.

The Reds are one of the few clubs with squads big enough to handle the intense fixture list and the 60-year-old has backed his fringe players, including Andy Carroll, to make an impact.

When asked about Carroll's chances of playing over Christmas, Dalglish claimed: “Everybody’s got to be prepared and ready to play. They will all expect to play some part in some of the games, and Andy Carroll is no different.

"The performances in the Carling Cup where we’ve made a lot of changes for all the games, it’s proved to the players and the people who’ve been watching the players who haven’t played as much as they’d like that they’re very capable of stepping in.

Dalglish also dismissed rumours that he would be looking to sign players in January with several strikers being linked to the low-scoring Reds who have netted fewer times than the likes of Norwich, Blackburn and bottom club Bolton so far this season.

"There will always be speculation but it’s not a Panini sticker book," Dalglish continued. "We’re happy with what we have got.

"They’ve done as much as they possibly could with the opportunities they have had. We have said many times we are happy with what they have done on and off the pitch and that doesn’t change.”

Skrtel Enjoying Reds Role

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has hailed his partnership with Daniel Agger, stating the Dane is easy to play alongside.

The Reds have conceded three goals in six games since the Slovakian stopper was paired with Agger during Jamie Carragher's absence.

Uruguayan Sebastian Coates is also vying to start for Liverpool and Skrtel believes competition for places is healthy.

The 26-year-old is also enjoying his football under manager Kenny Dalglish and is happy continuing to fight for his place in the team.

"Daniel is a top quality player and is easy to play alongside," he told "I think we are doing well together.

"We have a very good understanding on the pitch which is important and we are working hard and enjoying our job."

Skrtel added: "I'm really enjoying my football under the manager. The atmosphere around the club is very good and he has played me in almost every single game which gives me a lot of confidence.

"I'm happy I am playing and I am working as hard as I can to stay in the team.

"Our squad is now very strong. That is very important for the team because we have a lot of games in front of us, especially January when we have cup matches as well, so we need everybody fresh."

Gerrard Set To Return To Training On Monday

Steven Gerrard is scheduled to return to full training with Liverpool on Monday after recovering from an ankle infection.

The club captain has spent the past week continuing his rehabilitation in the United Arab Emirates, with club doctors believing the warmer climes would enable him to return to fitness sooner. Although no timescale has been put on his return to competitive action, the Telegraph reports it is hoped Gerrard will be available for the FA Cup third round tie against Oldham at the start of January.

Gerrard has seen his campaign ravaged by injury, with the ankle infection coming just a month after he had recovered from a groin injury that prevented him from playing at the start of the season.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish will be particularly keen to have the midfielder back among his squad, especially over the hectic festive period. Dalglish admitted on Thursday that he will use all his options over the next few weeks - with under-fire striker Andy Carroll given the chance to press his claim for further first team football.

"Everybody will get an opportunity. I wouldn't know who has played how many games in a row and we won't judge by that," Dalglish said. "Every one of them is ready to step in and play. There is no individual we are not comfortable with putting in.

"Everybody will be hoping they take part but not because someone is injured but because it would be right for them to take part in a game. In that I think they're well set up for it. The performances in the Carling Cup, where we've made a lot of changes for all the games, proved to the players and the people who've been watching the players who haven't played as much as they'd like that they're very capable of stepping in. That's all we can ask for.

"Everybody's got to be prepared and ready to play. They will all expect to play some part in some of the games. A lot of the games are in proximity to one another.

"Everyone keeps throwing up exams for people but I think they've stood the test of time. They've done brilliantly. They've got to the semi-final of the Carling Cup, what else can you ask for?"

Juan Agudelo Enjoys Experience Training With Liverpool

USA international striker Juan Agudelo was left in awe after his trial experience with Liverpool.

The 19-year-old New York Red Bulls striker already has 15-caps to his name for Jürgen Klinsmann's national team, but got his first taste of European football during brief spells with Stuttgart and the Reds in recent weeks.

It's an experience which has left a lasting mark on the teenager, who cited Luis Suarez as a player who stood out on the Anfield training ground during the trial.

Veteran Liverpool defenders Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger also made their mark on the talented forward, who admitted that were difficult to get past even on the training ground.

"Suarez really stood out, and the two center backs, Skrtel and Agger, were unbelievable with their speed and strength," he said on the Liverpool experience.

"It was hard to get around them."

The Red Bulls were delighted that one of their rising starlets got the chance to stay fit during the MLS off-season with a stint in Europe, whilst US coach Klinsmann was also eager for Agudelo to gain some invaluable experience.

"We're very pleased that Juan is staying fit and gaining tremendous experience training at the highest level at Stuttgart of the German Bundesliga and now Liverpool of the English Premiership," said NYRB sporting director Erik Solér before the trip.

"For such a young player, these stints are invaluable and we are eager to continue to track his development heading into the upcoming MLS season."

Shevey Handed Championship Honour

Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has been named Football League Player of the Month for November after his loan spell at Blackpool.

The 19-year-old, who has now been recalled to Anfield, scored four goals in five matches for Ian Holloway's Championship side during the month.

Now Shelvey, who was named on the bench for last week's 1-0 victory over QPR, is hoping that he can continue with his fine form and force his way back into the starting eleven for the Merseysiders.

He told the Liverpool Daily Post: "I think that going out on loan has helped me get my confidence back up and I think I am showing that in training back here.

"I have got to try to force my way into the Liverpool team and stay there. I feel this is a good chance for me to kick on.

"Being at Blackpool has helped get me back into Liverpool's plans."

Speaking following his recall, primarily to cover for the injured midfielder Lucas Leiva, Blackpool boss Holloway added: "Jonjo was fantastic [for us].

"I think he has all sorts of talent and will never lose that. Hopefully he will get the chance to use that and shine because he really suited us.

"The boy is good enough to play anywhere and in our system floating in off the right he was dynamic. He has gone a long way to giving us some confidence and making us realize we can win some games.

"I hope his career goes from strength to strength."