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Five Aside

Toure ready for Liverpool challenge

Kolo Toure has vowed to fill the defensive gap left by Jamie Carragher's retirement and help Liverpool back into the Champions League.

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The 32-year-old centre-back arrived at Anfield on a free transfer on July 1 after his contract at Manchester City came to an end.

Reds manager Brendan Rodgers has turned to Toure for defensive experience after vice-captain Carragher called time on his 16-year Liverpool first-team career at the end of last season.

And with hopes of a deal for Schalke's Greece international Kyriakos Papadopoulos coming to nothing and a move for Sporting Lisbon's Tiago Ilori stalling because of a disagreement over the player's value, the Ivory Coast international's acquisition could prove crucial.

Rodgers is still keen to strengthen further in central defence before the transfer window closes at the beginning of September, but Toure is ready to take on the responsibility of replacing Carragher.

He said: "My experience is going to be important. I know Jamie Carragher was a really important player for this football club. He's retired now and Liverpool had to look for somebody who can replace him. I'm the one and it's a big honour.

"To be chosen to replace Jamie Carragher is unbelievable because he has been a fantastic player for this football club. He was a great leader. What I will try to do is not going to be easy, but I will do my best."

Liverpool have not qualified for the Champions League since 2009, and finished seventh in the Premier League last season - 12 points off a top-four spot.

But Toure, a Premier League title winner with Arsenal in 2004 and City in 2012, believes the Reds can get back into Europe's elite competition under Rodgers.

He said: "I want to be part of history here. That's why I came - to try to build the team as far as we can, to be in the top four or to win a trophy.

"We just want to win trophies and want to play in the Champions League as well. There are a lot of good teams out there but with the squad we've got, we have great players and a great mentality here, we can do very well this season."

Toure insisted that he had no hesitation in agreeing to join Liverpool when the offer came.

He said: "When I had to decide, when I had the phone call from Liverpool… you can't joke with that. It's one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League. I was like: 'Wow'.

"I had to take my decision straight away because although Liverpool are not in the top four at the minute, they have the history, the quality, the players and the mentality as well."


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