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.”