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Feb 11, 2014

Skrtel thought Liverpool time was up

Defender Martin Skrtel considered leaving Liverpool in the summer but admits the pull of the club kept him at Anfield.

Usher: Growing expectations

The Slovakia international certainly seemed on his way out after losing his place to Jamie Carragher as the retiring veteran enjoyed a swansong in the second half of last season.

Martin Skrtel had too much affection for Anfield to leave over the summer.
Martin Skrtel, left, had too much affection for Anfield to leave over the summer.

Skrtel was made one of the scapegoats for the FA Cup fourth-round exit at League One Oldham at the end of January last year and made just five more appearances, with only two of those starts.

With the arrival of 16 million pound centre-back Mamadou Sakho, the experienced Kolo Toure and youngster Tiago Ilori in the summer transfer window, Skrtel's chances looked even more remote.

However, injury to Toure in September gave the 29-year-old a way back into the team and subsequent injuries to Daniel Agger and Sakho have led to Skrtel playing every match since then apart from, coincidentally, last month's FA Cup win over Oldham.

"It wasn't easy for me after last season because I was on the bench in the second part of the season and that was something new for me,'' said the centre-back, whose two goals in Saturday's 5-1 demolition of Arsenal enhanced their chances of securing a top-four spot.

"I would be lying if I didn't say I was thinking (about leaving) but it is not easy to leave a club like Liverpool because they are still one of the best in the world. After the six years I spent here, it was not easy to say, 'OK, I'm leaving,' but after games like Saturday's I am glad I stayed.

"Liverpool are a massive club and I just wanted to prove to people I am able to play for this club and I am happy I stayed and we will see how we go on.''

Last season the feeling was Skrtel was not the sort of player that manager Brendan Rodgers wanted to implement his build-from-the-back policy of ball playing. There were also questions over his ability to dominate in defence but Skrtel's form this season suggests he has risen to the challenge.

"For this season I just said to myself, 'I will fight and work very hard to try to show I am able to play and start the games', and it is working at the moment,'' he added. "I will try to carry on this way until the end of the season.

"I knew the last season wasn't the best for me and I made a few mistakes and cost us some points but this season I think it is much better and I try to work very hard on staying in the team.''

Liverpool head to Fulham on Wednesday looking to build on their emphatic win over Arsenal, wary of how they failed to deliver at West Brom, when they drew 1-1, after sweeping Everton aside 4-0 a few days earlier in the Merseyside derby last month.

"We play Fulham away and they are fighting for relegation,'' Skrtel said. "It is going to be a tough game and we have to show the kind of performance we did on Saturday.

"We are fighting for the top four and the result against Arsenal showed we are ready for battle. We have to carry on this way and then we can end up in the top four this season.

"We are not talking about the title. We still have to play 13 matches and anything can happen so we are just going game to game and try to get as many points as we can and then we will see where we finish at the end of the season.''

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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