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Reds ready to put 2014 behind them

Liverpool
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By ESPN Staff

Sahar out to attack Defoe and Crouch at Pompey

On-loan Ben Sahar has pledged to tear up Portsmouth's dream-ticket attack and earn himself a Wembley showcase on his birthday.

The teenage Israel striker, who is on loan for six months from Chelsea after helping Sheffield Wednesday avoid the Championship drop last season, knows the new Peter Crouch-Jermain Defoe tandem is blocking his path to a first-team spot with Pompey.

But Sahar fired a double in a pre-season friendly against the other Hampshire FA Cup heroes, Havant and Waterlooville, on Tuesday to impress manager Harry Redknapp.

And he is pushing for at least a place on the substitutes' bench in the FA Community Shield clash with Premier League champions Manchester United on Sunday - his 19th birthday.

Sahar, who cannot be included in Pompey's squad for the opening Premier League match of the season against parent-club Chelsea the following Sunday, has already seen Fratton Park front-line rivals David Nugent (groin) and Kanu (dead leg) struck down by injuries in the build-up.

He admits: 'Wembley would be great, especially on my birthday - and against United as well.

'Obviously I want to play every game but we have good strikers, which makes it difficult because I want to show people I can play and score a few goals.

'I'm happy to have the opportunity to fight for a place with such good players. It is not something I fear. I enjoy the competition and if I get my chance I want to make sure I take it.

'The longer pre-season has gone, the sharper I'm feeling and with big games coming up I want to be part of them as well.'

Pompey's 4-0 win at Havant wrapped up their pre-season programme ahead of the traditional curtain-raiser.

It was a major improvement on the previous night's unimpressive 2-1 win at Oxford United, which had boss Redknapp fuming - and left key midfielder Lassana Diarra with a sore ankle that threatens to put him out of Sunday's showpiece.

Crouch, Pompey's £11million star signing from Liverpool, and £7.5million Defoe, look certain to be paired at Wembley but new boys Sahar and Glen Little - a free transfer from Reading - have given Redknapp a pre-season tonic as he struggles to add to his FA Cup winning squad - despite selling Sulley Muntari for £12million.

Redknapp still wants Chelsea's Shaun Wright-Phillips and Younes Kaboul from Tottenham, if he can raise the cash.

But another target - Reading's England left-back Nicky Shorey - looks set to go to Sunderland with Royals boss Steve Coppell admitting he expects to see the player leave before his relegated side's opening Championship match against Nottingham Forest on Sunday.

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