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Nov 2, 2012

Liverpool plays down Theo Walcott move

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said it will not be easy to find players to sign in the January transfer window, despite having funds to strengthen his squad.

The Red boss brushed aside speculation linking him with a move for Arsenal forward Theo Walcott, whose contract ends next summer.

With Fabio Borini injured and Andy Carroll on a season's loan at West Ham, Luis Suarez is Liverpool's only fit senior striker.

"There is nothing to say (about Walcott). He is an Arsenal player and it is all speculation about many players at the moment," said Rodgers. "We'll have funds and I'm in talks with the owners at the moment, along with our recruitment team. January is always a difficult window. You don't get too many top, top players.

"Clubs will be unwilling to move on players but we have to scour the country and the world to try to get the types of players that are going to be available and correct for our model of play."

While much has been made of a suggested clear-out of high-earning, out-of-favor stars such as Joe Cole and Stewart Downing, Rodgers conceded his primary focus was on strengthening his squad.

"Obviously, we are limited in what we can bring both in terms of availability of players and financially but there is no doubt we need to do that, Rodgers said. "Our scouting team are working hard to identify those talents and who might be available. There is no doubt we need that support (from new players) in January and I am very confident we will be able to do that."

Sunday's visitor Newcastle has led the way with its recruitment policy, under the guidance of the well-respected Graham Carr, and Liverpool regularly has been linked with Magpies striker Demba Ba.

Rodgers acknowledged the work that has gone on at St. James' Park since Alan Pardew took over.

"Scouting at any club is very important. Obviously Alan has gone in there and Graham Carr, as chief scout, has had a big responsibility in getting the players in," he said. "I think they have bought in really well. (Yohan) Cabaye is a terrific player, an excellent passer of the ball, and the boys up front (Ba and Papiss Cisse) have done well for them."

Rodgers insists he is more focused on bringing in players to bolster his playing staff than he is on off-loading those who appear to have no long-term future at Anfield.

The likes of Cole, whose 45-minute performance in the midweek Capital One Cup defeat at home to Swansea did little to enhance his claims, Downing and, to some extent, Jordan Henderson and Jose Enrique have found themselves on the fringes this season.

Ideally, Liverpool would like to have Cole, in particular, and his supposed 100,000-pound-a-week salary off the wage bill in order to free up cash for new signings while if money could be generated from other sales, it would strengthen Rodgers' hand in the transfer market.

"Joe is like every other player. I've have good communication with Joe and we speak regularly," said the manager. "He along with the other players are working hard to find their way into the team and Joe is like everyone else. But for us my concentration is purely on the squad we have."

Rodgers' immediate focus is the fitness of goalkeeper Jose Reina, absent for four matches with a hamstring injury, and defender Glen Johnson, also a doubt for the weekend with a similar problem.

"Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson are still receiving treatment," said Rodgers. "Glen has been out on the pitch so we'll see how he goes over the next couple of days. Pepe will be likewise. We can't rule them out at this stage but I can't say they are fully fit as yet. I made it quite clear Pepe was the number one goalkeeper when I came in here and I've really enjoyed working with him."

Brad Jones has stood in ably for Reina and could give the Reds boss a selection question when the Spain international returns to fitness.

"Brad was the number three goalkeeper and he has worked his way up to number two and shown what a number two is about; coming in and being solid for the games you are asked to play," Rodgers said.

"My decision will be when Pepe is fit. At the minute there is no decision as Brad is clearly playing in goal, he is doing a really good job, working hard to keep himself in the team and give me a decision when Pepe's back."

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