Premier League

Ayre: Liverpool can compete

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Sat, 08 Jun 2013 13:03:00

Anthony Stokes is yet to commit his future to Celtic, but he is expecting to sign a contract extension at Parkhead.

The striker has snubbed an initial offer from the Bhoys, fuelling speculation that he could soon be on his way out of the club.

Celtic are, however, continuing with talks and are confident an agreement will be reached.

Stokes has offered them hope in those discussions by conceding that he is close to making a decision.

He said in the Daily Record: "I'm sure something will be sorted out. For the moment I'm just enjoying the chance to get away and take a break.

"But I'm looking forward to getting back and hopefully getting a strong pre-season under my belt.

"If I can do that, hopefully I can get myself into the team to stay.

"I missed a lot of football last season and want to make sure I'm involved as much as possible next time."

The Reds are set to embark on a fourth consecutive season without UEFA Champions League football but Ayre believes history shows they can compete for top players.

"We can still attract top players to Liverpool - I have no doubt about that," said Ayre.

"Look at the last transfer window, when we brought in Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge. Both had a huge impact on the team.

"As long as we continue to bring in players of that quality, we will be heading in the right direction.

"I have never been in negotiations with anyone who has said they don't want to sign for Liverpool because we are not big or successful enough."

Liverpool have already brought in Kolo Toure to bolster the defence following the retirement of Jamie Carragher with the acquisition of the 32-year-old seen as a surprise by some.

But while young players remain the priority on Merseyside, Ayre feels there will always be a place for experienced heads in the Liverpool squad.

He added: "We're focused on finding great young talent but we also need experience and leadership. It's about getting the right balance."

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