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Sep 19, 2013

Rodgers upbeat over Agger fitness

Brendan Rodgers is “hopeful” that Daniel Agger will ease Liverpool’s injury troubles by returning to action against Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

Daniel Agger has indicated that he would not try to force a move to Barcelona.
Daniel Agger could return for Saturday's clash with Southampton.

Rodgers in Hillsborough plea

Agger, 28, missed Monday’s 2-2 draw at Swansea after damaging his ribs in a freak gymnasium accident.

The centre-back suffered the injury during a training session on the day before the game as he tried to avoid a falling weight.

Rodgers said on Thursday: “We’ll see how Daniel is in the next 24 hours. It’s too early to say if he’ll be ready for the weekend or not. It was just unfortunate that it happened the day before the game. But we’re hopeful he’ll be fine for the weekend.”

Rodgers’ bid to maintain the league leaders’ impressive start to the season has not been helped by a number of injuries to his players.

Playmaker Philippe Coutinho had surgery on Thursday to repair a shoulder injury and will not be back until the end of October, right-back Glen Johnson is likely to be missing for the next month with a sprained ankle and left-back Aly Cissokho -- who also has an ankle problem -- has been out since the end of August and is still around two weeks away from returning.

In addition, defender Kolo Toure is only just getting back to full fitness after a groin injury, while striker Daniel Sturridge was forced to pull out of England’s last two World Cup qualifiers with a thigh problem -- although both men are fit again.

Rodgers acknowledged that the injuries to key players have made his life more difficult, but believes he has the strength in depth to cope.

He said: “It’s just unfortunate that we’ve had a number of injuries that have all happened at the same time. The injury record we’ve had here has been very good. But these are things that you can’t plan for. It’s just something that we have to deal with. You can’t forecast injuries, and they’ve been unfortunate.

“But you look at Martin Skrtel, who had been out of the team a long time, but retained his commitment to the cause and retained his quality in training every day, so that he was ready to come back in. That’s all we ask.

“I said at the beginning of the season: I need every single one of them. We don’t just need 11. We need everybody. You just need to continue to be professional, so when you’re called upon, you come in and you’re ready. You come in, you get the shirt and you do well.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost the quality of players that we have. Glen Johnson is the type of player you don’t realise you’re missing until he’s not in the team. But we hope it will only be a matter of weeks before he’s back.

“Young Coutinho will have to have a bit of time out. But it will open the door for someone else, and they’ve got to come in and perform. I’ve got every faith that they will do.”

Rodgers does, however, have two long-term absentees getting close to a return. While Luis Suarez will be ready after serving the final game of a ten-match ban this Saturday, defender Martin Kelly is stepping up his bid for a comeback after a year out with cruciate knee ligament damage.

The 23-year-old right-back played the full 90 minutes as an overage player on Tuesday as Liverpool’s Under-21 side beat Sunderland 5-2 at Anfield.

Rodgers said: “In the reserve game the other night, he definitely stepped up a level in terms of his fitness. We’ve played him in a couple of games at centre-half because he’s been out a long time and you’ve just got to nurture him back.

“But we felt this was the game to push him on. He’s been excellent in training, and he’s very focused on his fitness and sharpness. And I thought the other night, in the game, he was excellent.

“He’s getting close, and he’ll be a great one to have back in the team, because he’s an experienced player. He’s been around the club for a long time. And when he got injured last year, he was one of our best players. So I’m looking forward to having him back. Thankfully, it’s all gone well so far.”

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