Babel wants to prove his worth

A transfer window does not go by without the Holland international
being linked with a move away from Anfield. Last January, after a
fall-out with former boss Rafael Benitez, it seemed the
23-year-old’s Liverpool career was coming to an end despite the
club rejecting a bid from Birmingham. However, after a
heart-to-heart with Benitez the Dutchman was given a second chance.
With the Spaniard’s departure in the summer Babel began the season
with a clean slate and despite it being suggested yesterday he
could be the makeweight in a move for West Ham striker Carlton Cole
the player is keen to remain at Anfield. Hodgson has said he is
interested in seeing whether Babel can provide the necessary
back-up to striker Fernando Torres, having spent the majority of
his Liverpool career on the left wing. For his part the
£10.5million signing from Ajax in July 2007 is keen to succeed
in a role he feels he is more suited to – even though the Reds boss
still wants to bring in another striker before the close of the
transfer window. “I spoke with him at the beginning [of the season]
about this. It is positive,” said Babel. “He promised me already I
will play up front when he plays me so that is what I am focusing
on. “Every player has a preferred position but wherever the manager
plays me I will do my best. “I see myself as a winger and also a
centre-forward but every player wants to play. “Maybe it will be
good for me with the competition (from any prospective new
signing).” Babel insisted the regular speculation about his future
did not affect him. “It doesn’t frustrate me because as long as I
do not hear anything from the club then they can say whatever,” he
added. Hodgson admitted there had been interest in Babel but he
would like to see the player develop further and hopefully finally
flourish at Anfield. “There are clubs who want Ryan Babel and who
knows what might happen in the next two days?” said the Liverpool
manager. “I can’t make bold statements but if Ryan is here at the
end of the transfer window then I’m looking to use him in that
striking position, “That is where he thinks he is best and there is
no reason for me to doubt him. “I don’t know enough about him to
have a strong opinion one way but he has qualities you can use as a
striker.” The Holland international was given only a few minutes at
the end of yesterday’s 1-0 victory over West Brom, replacing
goalscorer Fernando Torres. But has already played his part in this
campaign, scoring the only goal which allowed them to take a 1-0
lead to Trabzonspor in the Europa League play-off and eventually
qualify for the group stages. The team has yet to register a
confident performance this season but Babel said a number of
contributory factors have to be taken into consideration. “We have
had some changes, new staff, new everything and we have had a lot
of players arriving late (after the World Cup) so we’ve had to get
used to each other,” said the Babel, one of the last to return to
the club’s Melwood training ground as a losing World Cup finalist.
“I think for the manager it is always difficult if you cannot work
with the full squad from the beginning. “It is the start of the
season and we can improve as always. “The last week (with victories
over Trabzonspor and West Brom) will have given us some confidence
so it should be positive going forward. “I think now we can go with
a better feeling to international duty. “We have a little break now
but I’m sure the confidence is there now because of the win.” West
Brom endured their 24th match without a win at Anfield, a run
stretching back to 1967, and they have now not won an away Premier
League game in 17 attempts. “We didn’t just defend, we tried to be
positive and play forward,” said manager Roberto Di Matteo, who was
also pleased with the performance of Marc-Antoine Fortune on his
return to the club from Celtic. “I think Fortune did well for us
but he was only with us for two days and we need a bit of time to
settle down and integrate all these new players we have signed into
the team.”