Rodgers: Sturridge and Hendo will only get better


Brendan Rodgers has been delighted with the form shown by Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson this season, and insists both players are only going to get better once they hit their peaks.

Sturridge is only 24, and Henderson 23 – but their ages haven’t prevented them being crucial players for Rodgers this season, helping the Reds climb to second place in the Premier League.

Henderson - Sturridge

Both also started for England during last weeks friendly against Denmark, and are expected to be on the plane to Brazil.

On Sturridge, Rodgers enthused to talkSPORT: “Daniel is potentially world-class. He has got everything to be a world-class striker.

“He’s been given an opportunity here at a huge club and a lot of people are helping him to implement his talent. He’s a good boy.

“He’s a boy at 24 years of age who has all the tools – the speed, the power, two great feet and he’s getting better in the air.

“He still has a lot of improvements to make but the combination between him and Luis [Suarez] gives us a real threat.”

Rodgers also had words of praise for Henderson – who has started every one of the Reds 28 league games this season – insisting he deserves a place in England’s World Cup squad.

He added: “As for Jordan, I don’t think there’s any doubt he deserves to be on that plane.

“He has made huge strides after coming into here as a young player with a big price tag. In the last 12 months he has really pushed on, both technically and tactically.

“He’s a great learner. He pushes himself every day in training. He looks after his body and on top of that he’s a real good young man. I know his family are very proud of him.

“I can see him being an important player for Liverpool for many years. At 23, he’s only going to get better.”


Gerrard calls on fans to celebrate the 96


Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has called on the supporters to turn out in force for the ‘Celebration of the 96’ Charity match next month.

Gerrard was speaking at a press conference to announce the Easter Monday game which will see a team of former local Reds take on an international team managed by Gerard Houllier.


The match will help mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, and a host of former stars have already agreed to take part.

John Barnes, Jamie Carragher, Robbie Fowler, Luis Garcia, Dietmar Hamann, Steve McManaman, Jan Molby, Ian Rush and Vladimir Smicer are the former Reds to have confirmed.

Gerrard said: “I think the support we’ve had up and down the country has been phenomenal. For me personally, I’ll be there to enjoy the occasion and I’m sure a lot of other first-team players will be. Let’s hope we can fill the stadium and make it a fantastic occasion.”

Gerrard described the £96,000 donation he made to the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG) as the “proudest thing I’ve ever done”.

Gerrard was joined at the press conference by HFSG chair Margaret Aspinall and Kenny Dalglish, who will manage the team of local players on the day.

“Everybody that wants to come along and play wants to play because they know the importance of Hillsborough,” the former Liverpool boss said.

“They might have put on a few inches; some might have lost a bit of pace; some of them never had any pace! On the day, they’ll be trying their best to put on a show. We’ve got Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Peter Beardsley, Gary McAllister; I’m sure everybody that is asked will love to play. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Funds raised for the game will be split between the HFSG and Liverpool FC Foundation.

Margaret Aspinall said: “We want everybody to come along and raise as much funds as they can for the two charities and celebrate the lives of the 96.”


Lucas relishing Reds return


Lucas Leiva has declared himself fit for the final ten games of the season, and has revealed he is targeting glory for both club and country in the coming months.

The Reds midfielder is back to help Liverpool cement their place in the top four, whilst looking to keep the pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Leiva 1

And the 27-year-old is hoping some positive performances for the Reds will see him make Luis Felipe Scolari’s Brazil squad for the summer’s World Cup in his home nation.

Lucas told “It was really good for me to get going again and try to improve my fitness.

“I was lucky that I wasn’t out for a long time and I’m now looking forward to first-team action. Hopefully I’ll be able to help the team again for the next 10 games because we know how important they are.

“I felt really good after the game and I’m looking forward to the next two months.”

Lucas knows he faces a fight to break into the Liverpool starting eleven, with the team going unbeaten throughout his absence with injury.

However, Lucas insists he has returned confident he can reach the level he was playing at prior to the injury.

He said: “It’s a massive two months for me, especially looking towards the World Cup at the end of the season as well, so I can’t afford to miss many more games.

“I knew the injury wasn’t too bad. I knew something happened but of course I was disappointed I wouldn’t be able to make the last international game.

“When you are out of the international team and squad there is always someone else who will have a chance to impress, the competition for places in the Brazil squad is so big, so that’s why I’m really confident that if I have a good two months ahead then I will have a chance to play at the World Cup.

“That would be like a dream for me – playing for my country in Brazil. It’s going to be massive, but as I said, what I do for Liverpool is what’s going to get me in the Brazil squad, so I’ve just got to concentrate on the next 10 games and hopefully help Liverpool to do good things until the end of the season.

“Injuries aren’t good but they can happen and probably 90 per cent of the team have had some injury during the season, so unfortunately for me it didn’t come at a good time but I’m back and I’m sure I will be at the same level that I was before.”



Conor Coady wants Liverpool future


On-loan Sheffield United star Conor Coady is hoping for a future with Liverpool.

The former Reds youth team captain has enjoyed an impressive campaign on loan with the League One side, and on Sunday helped them qualify for an FA  Cup semi final at Wembley.

Conor Coady

Coady has revealed his happiness at his form this season, but insists he remains focused on breaking into the Liverpool first team in the future.

Coady said: “I keep in contact with the young lads, like Raheem [Sterling] and a couple of the other lads out on loan. They’ve sent me a couple of texts.

“The manager and the staff at Liverpool all take an interest in how I am getting on at Sheffield United.

“They will often text or call, and it is nice to know that I am still in their thoughts. They haven’t just sent me out and left me.

“As I say, it’s up to me now to prove I can cut it.

“That’s what I am aiming for at Wembley, and in the remaining league games as well. It’s a big challenge for me, but I’m well up for it.”

Coady made his first team debut for the Reds in the Europa League last season, and insists he is under no illusions as to how difficult it will be to break into the first team squad.

Coady said: “It’s going to be tough but this season will help me massively.

“I had a couple of seasons playing U21 football and this was the season for me to go out and learn my trade.”


Robbie reckons Reds are favourites at Old Trafford


Reds legend Robbie Fowler reckons Liverpool go into Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford as favourites.

Liverpool currently occupy second place in the Premier League, and hold an eleven point gap over their rivals, whilst there has been an incredible 40 point swing in favour of the Reds in comparison to the same stage of last season.

Brendan Rodgers

And Fowler has looked to credit Reds boss Brendan Rodgers with turning the club into title challengers, claiming teams fear playing Liverpool at the moment.

He told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s always a massive game but the difference this time is that Liverpool must be favourites. I can’t remember the last time a Liverpool team went to Old Trafford in that position.

“On paper it’s a game Liverpool should win. They’re in great form and I am quietly confident Liverpool can get a big result there. People talk about how far United have dropped but I also look at it from the other side – how far Liverpool have come.

“That’s testament to what Brendan has achieved so far. He has got the team playing so well and I think teams are starting to fear Liverpool again. The manager deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Manchester United have lost four Premier League games at Old Trafford this season, but Fowler acknowledges the Reds must be prepared for a potential backlash.

“A few teams have gone to Old Trafford and got results this season,” the 38-year-old continued. “It has lost that fear factor. United had it for a number of years.

“Teams went there knowing they would be on the back foot and almost expecting to lose. That’s not happening anymore. Now teams are actually pushing on looking to win there rather than sitting back, hoping to nick a point.

“When Liverpool play Everton everyone says the formbook goes out of the window and to a certain degree, I’d say the same goes for Liverpool v Manchester United games.

“Forget the season they’re having, United will certainly up their game for the visit of Liverpool. Brendan and the players need to be ready for that.”



Suarez: I’m an angel with a bit of demon


Luis Suarez has described himself as ‘an angel with a little demon’ during an interview with French television.

The Uruguayan striker discussed the difficulty in changing peoples perceptions of him, after a string of controversies throughout his career.


This season has seen Suarez’s discipline improve, as his 24 Premier League goals have fired the Reds to second in the Premier League table.

“I think that I am someone who is shy, really – I know how I am off the pitch in my everyday life, and I’m more of an angel with a little bit of the demon,” he said.

“It is very difficult for me to have this image because of who I really am. But I have learned about my behaviour, and today, you have to know I am someone very timid and for that I am very careful what I say.”

Liverpool currently sit six points clear of fifth placed Tottenham, and also hold a game in hand over their north London rivals, making Brendan Rodgers side strong favourites to secure a top four finish.

And Suarez has revealed he is driven by experiencing a Champions League night at Anfield.

“Being able to play a Champions League match at Anfield, that would be incredible, something unforgettable,” he explained.

“I would really like to live this experience. Today with my club the main aim is to qualify for the Champions League.”


Reds handed double fitness boost ahead of United clash


Liverpool have been boosted by the news Mamadou Sakho and Lucas Leiva will both be fit for Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.


Both made their comebacks for the Under-21’s last week, coming through the 2-0 victory unscathed.

Both have since resumed full training, and are in contention to make the short trip to Manchester on Sunday.

Lucas has not featured for the Reds since the 2-2 draw with Aston Villa in January, after damaging knee ligaments.

He played the entire 90 minutes of the Under-21’s clash with West Ham, but is unlikely to start at Old Trafford, with Rodgers preferring a midfield three of Jordan Henderson, Phillipe Coutinho and Steven Gerrard in recent weeks, whilst Joe Allen was impressive in the 3-0 win over Southampton.

Sakho has not featured since tearing a hamstring in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in late December, and came through 70 minutes against the Hammers.

Again, the French international is unlikely to start, with Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel managing only the sixth league clean sheet of the season in the Reds latest victory at St Mary’s.

But Rodgers will be delighted to have both players back for the final ten games, as the Reds look to cement their top four position whilst still remaining in the title hunt.

Gerrard: Sturridge can star at the World Cup


Steven Gerrard has backed in-form Daniel Sturridge to shine for England at the summer’s World Cup.

Sturridge fired his 23rd goal of the season as England beat Denmark in a friendly at Wembley last week, and is on a run of scoring 12 goals in 12 games.

Raheem Sterling

And his Liverpool and England skipper believes Sturridge is more than capable of carrying his form onto the biggest of all international stages in the summer.

“Daniel’s got the world at his feet and he can be whatever he wants to be if he keeps working hard,” Gerrard said.

“His form has been scintillating this season and, to see him close up in training, I see what qualities he’s got.

“Everyone will be looking for Suarez, Ronaldo, the usual suspects to stand up and be the star of the tournament. But Daniel is certain capable of starring at this World Cup.”

Gerrard gave an indication of exactly how highly he rates Sturridge, by suggesting he could outshine club mate and Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, who England are set to face in the group stage.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Luis as a player,” Gerrard continued. “For me he’s in the top five players in the world.

“I’d rather play in the same team as him. He’s a world-class player and I know him well. I know his strengths and his very few weaknesses.”


Reina still refusing to rule out Reds return


Pepe Reina has once again refused to rule out the possibility of returning to Liverpool once his season-long loan at Napoli comes to an end.


The Spaniard has made 20 appearances for Rafael Benitez this season, but admits his future is still very much up in the air.

Brendan Rodgers recently said he did not expect to see Reina back at Anfield, after the shot-stopper wrote an open letter to the clubs supporters in which he said his goodbyes.

However Reina was keen to stress the letter was not his way of saying goodbye for good.

Reina told BBC Sport: “It was strange but I don’t regret it. The only thing about the letter is that I just could say goodbye in a different way and I couldn’t do it in person.

“There are always up and downs in a career and in the last two and a half years at Liverpool there were different methods and perhaps I didn’t do as good as I used to with Rafa (Benitez). But I don’t think I was ‘bad’.

Asked about whether he was expecting to leave the club, Reina added: “That is what the manager says apparently but I have two years left on my contract.

“Liverpool got another goalkeeper and they told me they were happy to loan me for a season. Liverpool is an offensive team, and they will win more games 3-2 than 1-0, that’s the nature of the team.

“I believe they are really happy with Mignolet, and they are happy going that way, in terms of being that offensive.”

Reina was also full of praise for former Reds boss Rafael Benitez, who he has been reunited with at Napoli this season.

“He’s the best manager I have ever worked with,” said Reina. “I know exactly what he wants from me as a goalkeeper, and I know exactly how his teams play.

“I believe he is good for my way of playing, and it is very easy to work with him.”

Speaking to Italian press last week, Benitez said: “Reina is having a great season. He is in exceptional physical condition and it performing at a great level. At Liverpool he is amongst the best in the world.

“His future? He must continue to work hard and we’ll see.”




Allen: Our target is to replicate Arsenal rout


Joe Allen insists Liverpool’s target is to replicate the level of performance shown against Arsenal last month, week in, week out.

The Reds produced perhaps the performance of any team all season on February 8, beating Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield, scoring four goals in the opening 20 minutes.

Allen 3

It was the perfect of example of the high pressing, attacking game Brendan Rodgers has tried to implement, and Allen insists they are focused on producing more performances to a similar level.

The Welshman told the official Liverpool FC magazine: “I don’t think I’ve seen a better performance in 20 minutes of football from the first whistle. Our target now is to make sure we do that in every game.

“Obviously it’s difficult to play to that level all the time, but that’s our dream and what we’re aiming to do. How clinical we were with the ball and how many chances we created was one thing.

“But with Arsenal being such a great footballing team as well, the way we stopped them playing and won the ball back and pressed them hard was equally as pleasing.”

Allen was also keen to highlight the aggressive nature of the Reds performance that day, something he feels has been a constant theme throughout the season.

“From the manager’s point of view, a lot of people talk about the passing game that we like to employ with the ball at our feet,” Allen said.

“But certainly from the work that we put in day in, day out, it’s also about when we haven’t got the ball. I think that was one of the biggest things the manager talked about when he took over the club, and that’s a way of playing that I’ve been brought up with.

“You can obviously see the benefits of it when you get it right – such as the game against Arsenal at Anfield. It was similar to the derby in that we really took the game to Everton from the kick-off.

“That’s probably the best way to approach any match – to have an aggressive stance from start to finish. Some people might argue against that and be happy to shut up shop at 1-0 or 2-0.

“But I feel that if you try to do that, you’re always giving the opposition a chance to get back in the contest. With teams like Arsenal, for example, you don’t want to give them any opportunity to do that. In many ways, that was why it was such a perfect display.”