Agger foresees Reds success

BY foxsports • March 21, 2013

Dean Saunders is looking to the loan market to bolster his Wolves squad for the relegation run-in having suffered a triple injury blow last weekend.

First-choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme could well miss the remainder of the season after breaking his hand punching a dressing room tactics board at half-time in Saturday's 2-1 win over Bristol City, having earlier conceded a bizarre own goal.

To make matters worse, Saunders had already lost star winger Bakary Sako (hamstring) and midfielder Dave Edwards (metatarsal) against the Robins, both of whom are now facing at least six weeks on the sidelines.

Dorus De Vries will stand in for Ikeme, while Aaron McCarey has been recalled from his loan spell at Walsall as back up, but Saunders is keen to bring in further players for the remaining eight games of the campaign as Wolves aim to secure their Championship status.

"We're looking to do something, especially with the three injuries," the Welshman told the club's official website.

"I might have to look at the goalkeeping situation as well."

The Bees will leave their home of 106 years at the end of the campaign for the Hive, and celebrated their last game under the lights with a 2-0 win over Fleetwood.

But while the former Holland international will always have a soft spot for the stadium, he is adamant the club's decision to move is the right one.

"I think that Underhill is a special place, especially when you come here for the first time," he told the Barnet Times.

"They have the hill which is uncommon and I think that the charm of that aspect will live long in our memories.

"Sometimes it is time to move on. We have a great opportunity and we have to take it.

"If that means we can develop quickly then as a football club you need to take it with both hands.

"That is why it is very important to stay up. Not only because of the new stadium but also because of the ambitions we have, the academy we have and philosophy that is behind the new plan.

"Going into a lower league would delay that but I am confident even if that did happen we would overcome it."

The Stoke striker and his team-mates left Dublin en route to their qualifier against Sweden at the Friends Arena in Stockholm on Friday evening before Austria's visit to the Aviva Stadium next Tuesday.

In reality, all three sides are battling for second place in Group C behind current leaders and favourites Germany, with a play-off berth up for grabs.

The Swedes, who drew 4-4 in Berlin in October, currently lead the way with seven points, one more than Giovanni Trapattoni's men, with the Austrians a further two points adrift, and Walters knows what happens in the next two games could prove decisive.

He said: "If we go there and we are beaten by Sweden and we don't turn up against Austria and are beaten there, we are not going to get second place, are we?

"We need to go and get the points, so it will be a pivotal week for us. We will know more come Tuesday night.

"We have got to go and get the results we need and if we don't, we all know the consequences of that.

"Germany are way above most teams in the world and I think the group is theirs, so a lot of teams are fighting now for second place."

Ireland launched their campaign with a good away victory in Kazakhstan in September, and were successful on the road the following month when they returned from the Faroe Islands with three more points after a 4-1 victory.

However, what happened in between set the alarm bells ringing and came close to costing Trapattoni his job.

On October 12, Germany tore the Republic apart in Dublin, trouncing them 6-1 to illustrate the gulf in class between the sides.

Asked if Ireland are a better team away from home, Walters said with a smile: "We have had Germany at home, haven't we? Let's be honest, they are a mile ahead of a lot of teams in the world.

"You have got to pick your points up where you can. It's going to be a difficult test for us, but they are two major games we are going into and we need to get the points out of them."

Walters seems likely to start from the bench in Sweden with Shane Long favourite to partner skipper Robbie Keane.

However, the 29-year-old will be delighted simply to be on the plane after, for a few moments at least, fearing he had suffered a nasty injury in a training ground collision with the West Brom man yesterday.

Walters said: "I have had bad ankle injuries in the past and ruptured it, and that pain was up there above them, so I thought it was going to be worse that it was.

"But it was fine after about an hour."

The Reds cannot win any silverware this season, and their seventh-place position, nine points off the top four, all but rules out Champions League qualification.

An extended absence from Europe's elite competition - Liverpool have not played in the Champions League since 2009-10 - causes further issues in relation to the recruitment and retention of players.

Agger, though, foresees a bright future at Anfield.

"It is a club that will have trophies, I think it goes without saying," said the centre-back.

"I believe it will come, of course. It will not be this year, because we are changing the style of play as we have not got the results we would have wanted but we have played well.

"There have been a few worries and it has something to do with stability and we must also have a bigger squad.

"These are the things we need to work towards next season.

"If we can keep the same level in more matches than we do this year it will look better for next season."

Agger credited Rodgers with having a positive impact on his fitness, which has allowed him to have his best run in the side.

The 28-year-old has started 29 of Liverpool's 30 Premier League matches, missing one only because of suspension.

Agger has made just four other appearances in the Europa League as Rodgers has sought to manage the defender both on and off the pitch.

"For me it's about being fit and I've been the fittest in years," the Denmark captain, preparing for World Cup qualifiers against Czech Republic and Bulgaria, told Danish website Sporten.

"I have not missed a game because of an injury and I think that is the first time in my career.

"Brendan Rodgers is undoubtedly the reason I have played all the matches without injuries this year and I cannot be anything but pleased.

"I must give the new coaching team great credit for it, but especially the new manager gets the greatest credit for this.

"It is not I who can take these decisions, it is he who has decided to adjust my training specifically for me.

"The new coaching team have come up with a form of exercise taking into account the individual, and it is something I have needed.

"My training volume is scaled down and then I have an increased recovery period."


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