Sat, Aug 24, 2013 - Page 18 News List

PREMIER LEAGUE: Reds planning defensive swoop in window

AFP, BIRMINGHAM, England

Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel plays in a pre-season friendly match against Thailand in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 28.

Photo: EPA

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he plans to sign a centerback before the transfer window closes with his defensive options limited for today’s trip to Aston Villa.

Rodgers confirmed on Thursday that Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates will miss most of the season after picking up an anterior cruciate knee ligament problem while playing for his country against Japan recently.

That has left Rodgers with Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel and Andre Wisdom as his centerback options, with Martin Kelly still not fully fit after a cruciate problem of his own.

The former Swansea City boss also wants to send Wisdom, 20, out on loan for first-team experience, while Skrtel, 28, has recently had a knee problem and has also been linked with a move to SSC Napoli.

Rodgers denied that the Serie A side have made an approach, but revealed his transfer plans before the window closes again.

“It’s something that we’re looking at, certainly, a player to come into that position,” Rodgers said. “It’s to strengthen the squad, but also to allow some of our younger players to develop. For us to maximize Andre Wisdom and his talent, I need to get him some games. The idea is to get him out on loan, but I can only do that if we bring in someone with a bit more experience to come in and support the group. It’s two-fold really. It’s certainly a position we’re looking at.”

Liverpool impressed in their opening day win over Stoke City last weekend, but Rodgers is wary of Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke this weekend after the Belgium international fired in three goals in their opening two games.

“There’s no doubt Benteke is the reference point for the team — the ball goes up to him and he holds it up well. He’s a big, powerful boy,” Rodgers said. “They had a hard season last season, Aston Villa, but that first year when you come into a new club there are different challenges that you have to meet and [Aston Villa manager] Paul [Lambert] had that last year. I very much expect for them to have a very good season. They are very much a counterattacking team that set up to defend half a pitch, and then break out with the pace of Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor.”

Liverpool completed the season-long loan signing of Frenchman Aly Cissokho from Valencia on Tuesday and the defender could feature today.

Lambert insists he has no problems with Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho claiming that their touchline interaction during the 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday was merely “banter” and he does not expect any Football Association action over his post-match comments.

The Scotsman also admitted he spoke to referee Kevin Friend after Branislav Ivanovic was only booked for appearing to elbow Benteke moments before scoring the winner. Then John Terry was not penalized for handball.

“I think there has been a lot made of me and Jose in the technical area,” Lambert said. “There was the odd little thing, but there was a lot of banter between us. I spoke to Kevin afterwards and obviously what is said in there stays in there, but I didn’t need to speak to him really – it was a clear handball. I’ve not said anything derogatory, so I wouldn’t have thought I’d get a rebuke.”

Lambert revealed defender Ciaran Clark should be fit for today’s game, despite coming off at Stamford Bridge after picking up a gash on his forehead following a clash with Oscar.

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