Spearing to fight for his place
Liverpool's Jay Spearing is ready to fight for his place in an overcrowded midfield this season.
Spearing, 22, signed a new long-term contract towards the end of the previous campaign after impressing manager Kenny Dalglish.
An injury to captain Steven Gerrard meant the Wirral-born player was given a chance in the final three months of the season and he seized the opportunity, starting the final nine matches of the Premier League season.
With Gerrard returning to fitness and the summer arrivals of England Under-21 international Jordan Henderson and Scotland's Charlie Adam, midfield is an area where Dalglish is now blessed with a surfeit of talent. However, it is not a concern for Spearing.
"I've got more competition to fight against now but that doesn't bother me," he told the Liverpool Echo. "When you are at a club of this stature you know that in the transfer window they are going to spend money on buying top-class players.
"I'm delighted with the signings we've made. Adding Adam and Henderson to the squad is a massive improvement for us, they are both great players.
"From a personal point of view, I wouldn't say them coming in puts extra pressure on me but it makes me fight more. I know I need to step up again and prove I can play alongside them or in front of them."
Spearing has been linked with a loan move to Premier League rivals Wolves, but having just had his best season for the club with whom he lifted the FA Youth Cup in 2006 he is not thinking about leaving Anfield.
"The first I heard about the Wolves stuff was in the papers and it's not something that's been discussed," he added. "I'm just getting on with giving everything for this club.
"Last year was a massive season for me. Roy Hodgson gave me a lot of games and I owe him a lot for that. Then as soon as Kenny came in he showed confidence in me straight away.
"I've got a lot of thank Kenny for. Hopefully I can now kick on, even with the signings who have come in."