Sunday, August 04, 2013

Rodgers Backs Joe Allen To Shine

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hopes a fully fit Joe Allen will prove a major asset to his side this season.

Wales international Allen initially impressed for the Reds after joining from Swansea for £15m last summer but his performances tailed off because of a shoulder problem that eventually required surgery.

The 23-year-old is now fit again and made a goalscoring appearance in Saturday's 2-0 win over Olympiacos in Steven Gerrard's testimonial match.

"The first three month of last season Joe was our best player by a mile but he had a problem with his shoulder which curtailed his season," said Rodgers.

"It meant he could not have that aggressive streak which is part of his game.

"Joe has been terrific over the course of pre-season and he did very well.

"It is important we have a real strong competitive group as we are trying to build the depth of the group so that I can change the team in games and when we go to play against certain teams I can change the team about."

Substitute Jordan Henderson scored Liverpool's other goal against Olympiacos, just seconds after coming off the bench, as Anfield honoured captain Gerrard's 15 years in the Liverpool first team.

Gerrard signed a new contract last month which keeps him at the club for a further two years and Rodgers has not ruled out the midfielder extending that further.

"For me he still has a number of years left yet," he said.

"You gauge players on their hunger, no matter how old or young they are, and Steven is 33 but from the first day I walked in here he struck me with his determination and hunger to succeed.

"He is very much hungry for the club to do well. The quality of his movement, his passes and leadership - he knows there is added responsibility with a number of players moving on (Jamie Carragher has retired and Jose Reina loaned to Napoli) - and he is a real talisman and gentleman."

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