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Dec 23, 2010

Hodgson doubts he'd have signed Cole

Roy Hodgson has revealed he might not have signed Joe Cole had he been more settled in his role as Liverpool manager when the deal was rubber-stamped - and called on the player to prove his worth to the team.

• Diouf attacks Carragher
• Hodgson: Liverpool aren't my team yet

Hodgson gave the green light to the signing during the summer transfer window, but the foundations had already been laid before his arrival by former managing director, Christian Purslow. Cole arrived on a free transfer, with Liverpool fending off reported interest from Tottenham and Arsenal, but Hodgson says he does not consider the England international one of his own signings.

When asked if he would have pursued Cole if he had arrived at Anfield earlier, Hodgson replied: "It's a difficult one for me to answer. I was involved in the discussion with him, but the initiative and the desire to take Joe did come from Christian perhaps more so than myself because I wasn't in the position to say these are the players we should be targeting as I hadn't been offered the job at that point.

"I played my part in persuading him it was a good move, but I made it clear I couldn't promise him a certain position. I made it very clear Steven Gerrard was staying, and the competition for the one spot, if it was the one spot he wanted, was going to be very tough.

"He's not so much a player I can really take responsibility for. I'd have to share the responsibility for Joe, less so than for people like [Christian] Poulsen, [Raul] Meireles and [Paul] Konchesky, who are players I was quite happy to bring to the club."

Cole has endured a tough first six months to his Liverpool career, earning a red card on his league debut, and he is yet to open his domestic account for the Reds. For a player that has never been blessed with pace or a quality left foot, there are suggestions that Hodgson is playing Cole out of position on the left wing, but the Liverpool manager insists the problem is with the player himself.

"I think he has got to do it on the field of play," Hodgson said in The Times. "With all the best will in the world, people can be in support or not in support, some will say he's not doing it, and some will say he's unlucky because he's not playing in the right position.

"But I don't have any truck with that. Joe is a midfield player, and what's the right position for a midfield player? Gerrard has played all over midfield for as long as I can remember.

"You'll have to ask him what isn't working. If he says the only place he can play is behind the striker, he is limiting his chances of playing here. We also have Gerrard and Meireles who can play in that position, and we also have a situation where at the moment quite often we are playing with two strikers.

"I would be sad to hear him saying something like that, because he would be suggesting he can't do what he has done so often in the past for England and Chelsea, which is playing in a different position.

"Joe has to come to terms with the fact that he has come here after an unsuccessful period at Chelsea with high hopes of taking Liverpool by storm and unfortunately it's not happened. That's life. He should have great confidence in his ability as he is a very good footballer. As far as I am concerned, everything he has to say should be said on that patch of green grass.

"He should be convincing me and everyone watching that this is a player who can help Liverpool win things. And I think you couldn't say that has been the case so far."

Meanwhile, Hodgson is hoping that Blackpool do not have a third successive home match postponed as Liverpool prepare to make the short trip to Bloomfield Road on Boxing Day.

"I'm not planning for it to be called off and I don't think it will be called off,'' he said. "I know Blackpool are working very hard and doing everything they can to get their pitch ready, and I believe they will succeed. Of course there are factors beyond people's control but at the moment we're preparing for the game going ahead.

"It is an inconvenience when games are called off, especially when you get two called off and, in Blackpool's case if it were to happen, three called off because it will mean a fixture pile-up later on in the year. For teams like ourselves who have still got an interest in the Europa League that could be very irritating, so we would like to get all of the games played on schedule.''

Hodgson had some good news ahead of the short trip up the coast after confirming captain Steven Gerrard and defender Daniel Agger were now fit to return.

"It is a big boost to have Gerrard back going into five games in 15 days,'' said the manager. "It is a season-changing period for every team in the Premier League. He would have been fit to play against Fulham as well. It doesn't hurt to have an extra week to get some training in but what he needs now is matches.

"Unfortunately the chance to play a match was missed when our game against Fulham fell victim to the weather. Daniel Agger is also fit so there are only two players unavailable to me, one of whom is Jay Spearing who suffered a break to his ankle and is a month away.

"Jamie Carragher (dislocated shoulder) is still nine weeks away from coming back, if we are to believe the doctors, but knowing Jamie it would not surprise me if those nine weeks became less than that.''

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