Nicol: Liverpool are not title contenders
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has assured Daniel Agger and Fabio Borini that they both remain a key part of his plans.
Vice-captain Agger has not started a game for the club since an attempted comeback from a rib injury was cut short during the 1-0 Premier League home defeat against Southampton on Sept. 21.
Striker Borini, meanwhile, is attempting to prove himself on a season’s loan at Sunderland after an injury-hit first year at Anfield.
Agger took to Twitter on Tuesday to declare that he is happy to stay and fight for his Liverpool place, having been quoted as telling Danish television station TV3 that he might consider a move.
The Denmark international centre-back, 28, has been unable to win back a place since regaining his fitness -- but Rodgers is adamant that he has a key role to play.
The manager said: “I’ve just reassured him really. Daniel fully understands the situation. He’s like any player, of course, he wants to play. And he’s a top player. He’s trained remarkably well. It’s obviously been difficult, because since he came out of the team with the injury against Southampton, the team have done very well.
“It’s something he understands. He comes in with a smile on his face, and he’s working exceptionally well. That’s what we need, because it will be the whole squad that allow us to succeed, and he’s a player who respects the decision. He’s fighting and waiting for that moment. When he does get back in, he’ll be fighting to keep his place.”
Rodgers has also told Borini that he wants him back at Liverpool challenging for a regular place when his stint at Sunderland ends.
The 22-year-old striker scored his first goal for the Black Cats on Sunday to ensure a 2-1 win over neighbours Newcastle in the Wear-Tyne derby.
Afterwards, Borini declared that he still had ambitions to be a success at Liverpool, having had an injury-hit first season following a 10.5 million pounds move from Roma in July 2012. Rodgers has long been an admirer of the striker, having coached him while in charge of Chelsea’s reserves and then taken him on loan to Swansea in 2011.
The manager said: “Fabio’s a young player who’s been unfortunate, really. He came in and got injured early on and was out for a period of time. So it was difficult.
“And that first year for a lot of players at a big club is difficult. I just felt he was one who needed games. He’s got a talent. You saw that with his goal [against Newcastle] the other day. He showed his quality cutting in, and his touch was brilliant.
“I know him very well. He’s a young player who needs to get experience of games. I just felt this year -- with us having a limited number of games because we’re not in Europe -- I’ve got players who maybe aren’t playing so much.
“I need to plan forward in order to get these players to maximise their potential for Liverpool. Sometimes, that will mean going out and getting games. With Fabio, that’s why he’s gone, to get more game time there.
“So he’s definitely got a future here. He’s a talented young player, and one I hope will develop well over the next few years.”
Rodgers is happy with the strength of his squad, but acknowledges the need for astute management to ensure those players not in the team still feel involved.
He said: “I’m open in my communication with the players. I talk with them regularly as individuals and as group. The biggest thing is to make sure they recognise that you’re aware how hard they’re working -- and how difficult it is for them, because it is difficult.
“Players such as Daniel Agger, Joe Allen, Luis Alberto, Raheem Sterling are working tirelessly every day. And sometimes, we’re having to organise games behind closed doors to keep them up to some sort of match fitness.
“I just think it’s something that’s part of my job. It’s why football is unique. Everyone talks about football being like business. I don’t know any other business where you have 25 in an office and you can only pick 11 once or twice a week.”