New boy Poulsen says Liverpool can challenge
New midfield signing Christian Poulsen might only have played one match for Liverpool but he's confident his new team has the quality to challenge for honours this season.
Hodgson on Cole ban
Poulsen signed from Juventus earlier this month and made his Reds debut in Thursday's Europa League play-off victory over Trabzonspor at Anfield. Poulsen is now hoping for his first taste of Premier League action as Liverpool take on big-spending Manchester City at Eastlands on Monday night.
After splashing out more than £120 million on new players in the summer, City are expecting to break into the top four at the very least this season. Liverpool slipped out of that elite group last term but Poulsen believes they too are well capable of qualifying for the Champions League.
Poulsen, who watched as the Reds opened their campaign with an encouraging draw against Arsenal, said: "I think we have to have a strong enough squad to compete with the big teams. I think we showed last Sunday the team is ready for the Premier League and I hope we can have a win at City. I am glad to be here and I look forward to playing with my new colleagues. I need to get the rhythm of the teams here at Liverpool but we have a good squad.''
Poulsen, who cost £4.5 million, showed some of his quality on Thursday by firing narrowly over the bar after winning the ball and linking well with Milan Jovanovic. The 30-year-old also had a goal disallowed after a debatable foul on the goalkeeper by team-mate Joe Cole. Hodgson was impressed enough with his first outing and would have no hesitation using him again, although the likes of Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano are set to return.
"The opposition was of Premier League standard, no question, and I thought he played very well,'' said Hodgson. "I am surprised how well he played considering how little match practice he had. I am satisfied with his performance. If he can perform well against Trabzonspor he can perform well in the Premier League.''
Despite continuing speculation over his future, Mascherano is hoping to overcome a calf muscle injury to feature. Daniel Agger is doubtful after suffering concussion against Arsenal. The likes of Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Dirk Kuyt and Martin Skrtel are back after being rested on Thursday, but Cole misses out as he begins a three-match domestic suspension.