Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reds To Fast-Track Starlet

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admits he is ready to fast-track young striker Samed Yesil into the first-team reckoning.

Yesil joined Liverpool from Bayer Leverkusen last month in a £1million deal with the 18-year-old seen as one for the future.

However, Rodgers is now ready to include the German youth star in his squad for Thursday's Europa League clash with Young Boys with the Anfield boss short of attacking options.

Rodgers admits he has been impressed by Yesil, who scored twice against England Under-19s recently, and that several other young players will get their chance to step up to the first team in the next few months.

"He [Yesil] will certainly be fast-tracked," said Rodgers.

"I watched him play (for Germany) against England Under-19s (two weeks ago). He scored two terrific goals and set up another, he has real potential.

"He will be involved in the Europa League game.

"The biggest thing for young players now is that the introduction of Raheem has given them hope. All I have done is given him a chance.

"I have moved a lot of the young players up to Melwood, with it being international week, and you can see it in their attitude.

"They have a spring in their step. They feel that they have got a chance. And they will get that.

"There is nothing better than when you see a young kid come through. A lot of people have done great work with him over a period of time.

"There will be that chance for Yesil and one or two other boys over this period of months now."

Liverpool On Alert As Dutch Striker Stalls On Deal

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will not be rushed into signing a new contract with Schalke, which has reportedly alerted Liverpool to his potential availability in January.

The Netherlands international was the top goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season, netting 29 goals, while he scored 48 times in 47 appearances in all competitions.

Huntelaar's current deal at the Veltins-Arena expires next summer, and Schalke remain desperate for the 29-year-old to commit to a new contract.

The former Real Madrid striker, however, is not prepared to make a hasty decision on his future and will consider all possible options before deciding on his next move.

"I have never said that I would definitely make a quick decision," Huntelaar said, as reported by Metro.

"I have had two serious chats about a new deal, the latest chat was back in August and it was just about sporting aspects and not about financial facts.

"To make it straight and clear, I want to focus on the matches ahead, these fixtures are very important."

According to Metro, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is keen on Huntelaar and is monitoring his interest in Germany in the hope of bringing a proven goalscorer to Anfield in January.

Liverpool failed to compensate for the exit of Andy Carroll during the summer transfer window, and are worryingly short of options up front.

Liverpool Enter Race For Real Madrid Defender

Portuguese source Record states that Liverpool is one of three Premier League sides interested in young Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.

The Anfield side is apparently joined by London sides QPR and Tottenham as prospective suitors for the French defender.

Brendan Rodgers may feel the need to beef up his defensive options as he currently has to rely a great deal on Martin Skrtel and injury prone Dane Daniel Agger. The Liverpool boss can also call upon veteran Jamie Carragher but he has proved less consistent than in his heyday.

Varane arrived at the Bernabeu from Lens a year ago but has struggled to break into the first team. The French Under-21 international is still only 19 years of age so arguably has the time to make an impact at Real Madrid and certainly wouldn’t have arrived expecting to jump straight into Jose Mourinho’s first team plans.

Mourinho may not be ready to listen to offers for the big Lille born centre-back unless the player himself did look to force a move away from the La Liga giants.

Extra Sessions Firing Fabio

Fabio Borini has revealed he is staying behind after training for extra shooting practice as he seeks to consistently put his name on the scoresheet for Liverpool.

The Italian has bagged one goal in eight appearances since arriving at Anfield from Roma during the summer - a record the 21-year-old is determined to improve upon.

So much so that Borini can often be found perfecting his aim and learning from teammate Luis Suarez at Melwood long after the regular sessions have concluded.

"I'm working really hard on the training ground," he told "On my physical condition, technical side and tactical as well, with the manager and the assistant manager after training, with Luis and all the other players."

Having largely been used on the right-hand side so far this season, Borini found himself in a more central position against Sunderland on Saturday, and was presented with a couple of chances to score.

The forward did not add to his tally on that occasion but is confident that the situation will change provided he keeps putting himself in the right positions.

"There's not a particular key that can convert the chances into goals," Borini continued.

"It's just probably a moment or a matter of inches or luck. But I think we have qualities to convert the chances, we see in training and we work every day on shooting. It will come.

"I know they will come because as a striker you always get chances in a game. It's probably just a moment that you get unlucky or the keeper makes saves. It's just a moment."

The youngster revealed he has 'settled in quite well' to life with Liverpool and, after beginning pre-season late due to his Euro 2012 commitments with Italy, and is relishing the chance to prove himself.

"I've played lots of games and I've been involved in all of them. It's great for me because I can get more experience than I played last year," the former Chelsea and Swansea City player explained.

"I can get more experience in any kind of football - English Premier League and European football - which is very good for me. I didn't have pre-season training, it was hard at the beginning but now I feel a lot better."

By playing anywhere across the forward line Borini has already proven his versatility for the Reds, and the Italian said he would be happy to play in any position to help the team - even goalkeeper.

The No.29 said: "My favourite position and my natural position, as I've said in the past, is up front, because I played there every time in my career.

"But if to help the team I need to play left or right, midfield or even in goal, it's not a problem because to help the team I will do anything. That's the way it is, and all the players have to do that."

Reflecting on the 1-1 draw with the Black Cats last weekend, Borini felt Liverpool deserved more from the match.

He added: "I think we played quite well, as the manager wants, and we have been unlucky with our opportunities.

"I had two good chances in the first half, we hit the crossbar, we hit the post. They actually probably had one shot on goal and scored one. We've been unlucky, as maybe the last few games have been. But I think we made our point and our style.

"It's not about points but getting the win. That was more the feeling, because we wanted the win. We didn't get the win even though we probably deserved it."

Borini is more aware than most of how manager Brendan Rodgers works, having experienced the Northern Irishman's methods at Chelsea and Swansea, and the forward believes commitment and the right attitude are key factors for success.

Borrell Ready For Inter Test

Rodolfo Borrell is hoping his young squad can rise to the occasion this season when the NextGen Series gets underway with a tough trip away to Inter Milan on Wednesday.

Last season Borrell's charges came third in the competition, and this term they also face Rosenborg of Norway and German giants Borussia Dortmund in their group.

Most of the regular members of the U21 squad will not be involved in the NextGen Series squad as it's an U19 tournament and the likes of Michael Ngoo and Jack Robinson are now ineligible for it.

Last season, Borrell's men lost in the semi-finals to Ajax but came third after beating Marseille in the play-off.

This campaign, the competition is even stronger with the likes of Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Chelsea, Arsenal and PSG fielding strong teams.

However, Borrell insists the squad are under no illusions as to the test they will face from the reigning NextGen Series champions.

He told "It is going to be difficult because we are in a very tough group and it's a tough first game for us against Inter Milan.

"They won the NextGen Series last season and they are a very tough and physical team so it's going to be a big test for us.

"Last season we managed to finish third out of 16 teams in the NextGen Series which was a magnificent achievement. In terms of results we had highs and lows because we faced top-level teams and had mixed results, but there were a lot of positives from our lads.

"This season will be tough because this is a competition for lads born in 1994. Last season we had a bigger and stronger squad but some of them now can't play.

"The squad will be mostly made up of the U18s team and it is a big opportunity for them to play at a higher level.

"It is a step-up for some of them but we can only get positives out of playing in this competition. It is a great experience for the players and they will learn quickly.

"We will be positive and try to get good performances and good results."

Ferguson Pledges Reds Support

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has promised Liverpool total support ahead of the two sides' Premier League game on Sunday.

The match will be the first to be played at Anfield since the report on the Hillsborough tragedy was released last Wednesday, placing the blame for the disaster, in which 96 people died, on South Yorkshire Police and other services.

Yet the chants of a few United fans during Saturday's 4-0 win over Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford highlighted the potential for trouble.

Ferguson, who has already appealed for a line to be drawn in the sand by supporters of both clubs, has offered Liverpool unqualified support.

"It is going to be a very emotional day on Sunday and we will support them in every way we can," he said.

"As a club we are totally supportive of Liverpool in the situation they are in. We understand what those families must have felt when they got that report.

"I didn't hear it (on Saturday), but others did, particularly in the directors' box. (Chief executive) David Gill was disappointed."

Some fans have argued the chant heard on Saturday - "Always the victim, never your fault" - was only sung in the immediate aftermath of Luis Suarez's racism spat with Patrice Evra last season.

"It is a new chant that only started after the Suarez situation," said Ferguson.

"I was disappointed to hear it. It is a minority. But in society there is a minority wanting to be heard."

Liverpool Thank Everton

Liverpool has thanked their Merseyside rivals Everton for their tribute to the 96 fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

Everton were led out against Newcastle United on Monday night by two mascots, one wearing the blue kit and another wearing the Reds' with their shirt numbers displaying 96 when they stood side by side.

As the teams and supporters united in a round of applause, photographs and names of each of the 96 victims were displayed on the giant television screens, while the public address system played The Hollies' song 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother'.

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has now thanked Everton for their gesture.

"I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the staff and fans at Everton Football Club from everyone at Liverpool for the display of support you have shown the Hillsborough families," he told Liverpool's official website.

"We've always been great rivals on the pitch but off it, the two clubs have always supported each other.

"In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Everton Football Club was there for us and that solidarity was on display again last week when the Hillsborough Independent Panel's findings were revealed.

"At times like this, football rivalries take a back seat - something that makes this city unique. I think supporters of both clubs can be immensely proud of the way they have conducted themselves over the past days, weeks and years since the tragedy."