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Clarke backing for Joe Cole

Liverpool assistant manager Steve Clarke believes Joe Cole still has a "big contribution" to make at Anfield.

• Liverpool hit six in friendly

Cole joined Liverpool on a free transfer from Chelsea last summer and was expected to prove a shrewd acquisition by then-manager Roy Hodgson.

But the midfielder struggled for form on Merseyside, making just nine Premier League starts, which sparked speculation that he could be moved on this summer.

However, Clarke has said: "At the end of last season he was not getting in the team because the team was playing well. But he has gone away, trained hard and had a good summer.

"Joe Cole is a top international player and he has a big contribution to make to the future. He is the same Joe Cole I coached at Chelsea, just a couple of years older and a little bit wiser.

"He knows the position he is in. It has been difficult for him because he has not been involved but when he gets the chance it is up to him to take it."

Manager Kenny Dalglish has strengthened his midfield with the signings of Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam it appears the former England international's opportunities have been limited further.

But after a morale-boosting trip to Asia Cole is eager to build on what he has done in his pre-season so far.

"I've been happy with my performances,'' Cole said. "This is the longest - six weeks - I've ever had off in the summer during my career so it's nice to get going again.

"Now I just want to get started. I feel great physically. I'm happy with how I'm performing and I want to get a couple of 90-minute run-outs under my belt.

"There are four weeks until the start of the Premier League so there's still some time to go. I'm enjoying it. I want to take it day by day. Training has been good. I want to get myself fit and get a little bit better every day.''

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