Tag Archives: friendlies

Arsene Wenger will seeks talks with Roy Hodgson over Jack Wilshere"s use in England"s end-of-season friendlies

EXCLUSIVE: Wenger's friendly fire! Arsenal boss wants showdown talks with England manager Hodgson over Wilshere's use

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

02:00 GMT, 21 March 2013

Arsene Wenger will seek talks with England manager Roy Hodgson over his use of Jack Wilshere during the end-of-season internationals.

England face the Republic of Ireland on May 29 – 10 days after Arsenal’s final game of the season against Newcastle – before travelling to Rio de Janeiro to face Brazil on June 6.

Both games are friendlies and Arsenal manager Wenger is keen to liaise with Hodgson and the FA to establish a clear plan of how his midfielder should be utilised.

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Sidelined: Jack Wilshere hasn't played since suffering an ankle knock in the north London derby

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Engine: Wilshere is already a key man for England despite playing for the national side just seven times

Wenger was disappointed Wilshere played the full 90 minutes of the 2-1 friendly win over Brazil in February and, understandably, wants to avoid a similar scenario during the summer internationals.

Despite 17 months out with foot and ankle problems, Wilshere has been Arsenal’s best performer this season but Wenger wants Hodgson to go easy during the end-of-season international period, given Wilshere will have featured in what is likely to be an intense race for a top-four spot.

Wenger also wants Wilshere to have maximum rest ahead of next season, which looks set to be one of the most important in the Frenchman’s long tenure at Arsenal.

Wilshere is already showing signs of this season catching up with him. He is currently on the sidelines with an ankle injury picked up in the 2-1 defeat by Tottenham on March 3.

Wenger sent him on a mid-season break to Dubai to aid his recovery from the injury but the trip was also designed to recharge his batteries after a tiring 28-game season. Arsenal hope Wilshere will be able to return to first-team action for the visit of Reading on March 30 but it is more likely the 21-year-old will make his return against West Bromwich Albion on April 6 or Norwich seven days later.

Wenger faces more problems after Wojciech Szczesny’s father accused the manager of making his son a scapegoat and claimed Arsenal ‘played’ with the keeper’s fitness last season.

Szczesny, 22, was dropped for Arsenal’s
Champions League match against Bayern Munich last week after Wenger said
he had been mentally affected by his form, casting doubt over his
future.

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Talks: Arsene Wenger will seek clarification from Roy Hodgson on Wilshere's role in friendlies

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

Benched: Wojciech Szczesny's (right) dad Maciej criticised the Arsenal boss

His father, Maciej, who also played for Poland, told Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy: ‘Wenger already started to look for the scapegoat. It is not the way the boss should behave. Wojciech has had two serious injuries. He played with one in April and May (last year). He shouldn’t have agreed to play that time, but the coach insisted.

‘Wenger was playing with the young man’s good health and Wojciech agreed foolishly.

‘In my opinion Mr Wenger messed up a lot in April and May.

‘Then in August there was a foot (ankle) injury, after which he played almost instantly. After seven weeks out Wojciech trained for just seven days and played. How on earth can he be on his highest form’

Szczesny Snr added: ‘This last period has not been successful, however, I think my son can be the No 1 goalkeeper over 10 years. He just needs to come back to form.’

VIDEO: Interview with Arsenal and England star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Arsene Wenger blasts international friendlies

It's little wonder players are pulling out of international friendlies – they're just there to make money, says Wenger

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UPDATED:

09:35 GMT, 14 November 2012

Arsene Wenger says it's little wonder players are withdrawing from this week's international friendlies – they're a waste of time and just a way of making money, he says.

The Arsenal manager believes national team bosses are kidding themselves that this week's clashes are useful preparation for competitive matches three months away.

Quite a few players seem to agree, with Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, Jonjo Shelvey and Kyle Walker all withdrawing from Roy Hodgson's England squad to take on Sweden.

Making a point: Arsene Wenger believes international friendlies are inconvenient and just a way of making money for corporations

Making a point: Arsene Wenger believes international friendlies are inconvenient and just a way of making money for corporations

While some of these may have genuine injury concerns, cynics may argue that they just can't be bothered.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain, Germany and Holland have all been hit by withdrawals, with former Arsenal player Robin Van Persie dropping out of the Holland squad with a thigh injury despite completing a full 90 minutes for Manchester United on Saturday.

While it's a short hop for England over to Stockholm and an even shorter trip for Germany to Amsterdam, Spain are flying half-way around the world to play Panama.

Wenger said in The Sun: 'There are a lot of politics behind these games because when you see some teams travelling during that period, you think it is more to pay back some corporation rather than preparing a team for the next official game.

'The friendlies in November, how can they prepare you for a game in February

'I believe the friendly games are there as well to help some federations to raise money.'

Reshuffle: England boss Roy Hodgson had to rethink his plans after half a dozen players withdrew from the squad to take on Sweden

Reshuffle: England boss Roy Hodgson had to rethink his plans after half a dozen players withdrew from the squad to take on Sweden

Wayne Rooney hobbles out of Manchester United's game at Aston Villa on Saturday

Theo Walcott picked up a knock in Arsenal's draw with Fulham at the weekend

Absentees: Wayne Rooney (left) and Theo Walcott (right) are two of the England stars out of England's friendly against Sweden on Wednesday night

Wenger thinks midweek friendlies should be moved to Tuesday evenings, with prior agreement between clubs and managers about how long their star players can be on the field.

'The problem is not to have too much conflict with the interests of the club.

'For example, when we play this Saturday at 12.45 against Tottenham and Santi Cazorla plays in Panama on Wednesday, you cannot say there is no conflict of interest.

'What is difficult to understand is why these games are not like the official games and on a Tuesday.'

Long haul: Santi Cazorla (right) is part of the Spain squad flying off to Panama for a friendly this week

Long haul: Santi Cazorla (right) is part of the Spain squad flying off to Panama for a friendly this week

Wenger is just the latest manager to add a dissenting voice this week.

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo said: 'I question how worthwhile these friendlies are.

'I know the national coaches want to try out some stuff but I am not sure how much this benefits any of the players who are travelling from different time zones.'

And ex-Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp added: 'Players from all around the world have pulled out of friendlies.

'It would be interesting to see how bad they are by who plays on Saturday or Sunday for their club.

'It seems some only want to play when it suits them. Maybe some national coaches should not pick them again.'

Estonia international Oliver Konsa arrested on suspicion of dealing cocaine

Estonia international striker Konsa arrested on suspicion of dealing cocaine

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UPDATED:

15:42 GMT, 13 November 2012

Arrested: Oliver Konsa and three others were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of dealing cocaine

Arrested: Oliver Konsa and three others were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of dealing cocaine

Estonia international Oliver Konsa has been arrested on suspicion of dealing cocaine ahead of his country's friendlies in the Middle East.

The striker, who plays for Estonian champions JK Nomme Kalju, was arrested on Monday along with three others suspected of distributing the drug.

The 27-year-old has been capped 20 times for Estonia, but did not make the squad for his country’s friendlies against Oman and the United Arab Emirates this month.

Nomme Kalju suspended the player immediately after Konsa’s arrest for allegedly dealing the Class A drug.

The club’s sporting director Sergei Terehhov said: 'It is very sad. We are shocked by this news.'

The 6ft striker has only managed to score 12 goals in three seasons at champions Nomme Kalju since joining in 2010.

Multiple: Konsa, who plays as a striker, has been capped 20 times by Estonia

Multiple: Konsa, who plays as a striker, has been capped 20 times by Estonia

Robin van Persie joins Wayne Rooney on injured list for international friendlies

Injury worry for United as Van Persie joins Rooney on crocked list for international friendlies

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UPDATED:

14:16 GMT, 12 November 2012

Robin van Persie has pulled out the Holland squad which was preparing to face Germany, because of a thigh strain.

The Manchester United striker joins team-mate Wayne Rooney in pulling out of the midweek international friendlies.

The league leaders will be hoping their star centre-forward pairing can make a swift recovery in time for resumption of domestic duties.

Sidelined: Both Van Persie and Rooney will miss the midweek action

Sidelined: Both Van Persie and Rooney will miss the midweek action

Sidelined: Both Van Persie and Rooney will miss the midweek action

United have a packed schedule with four games in 11 days on the way, including Champions League action away to Galatasaray.

Van Persie's absence clears the path for Klaas Jan Huntelaar to start in his place up front.

The Holland striker played a key part in United's stunning comeback at Aston Villa on Saturday.

His cross was headed home by Javier Hernandez to complete the 3-2 victory after they had trailed 2-0.

And his compatriots are sure to miss his influence in the clash with European neighbours Germany.

He has a record of 31 goals in 71 internationals – but his likely replacement Huntelaar has 34 goals in 59 matches.

Holland take on Germany at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday night.

Dutch delight: Van Persie has made a flying start to life at Old Trafford

Dutch delight: Van Persie has made a flying start to life at Old Trafford

Giancarlo Poveda rejects Arsenal for Barcelona

Blow for Arsenal as promising Colombian kid Poveda chooses Barcelona

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UPDATED:

15:51 GMT, 1 November 2012

Barcelona look to have beaten Arsenal to the punch on exciting young Colombian Giancarlo Poveda.

The 14-year-old winger had been training with Arsenal for a number of weeks after leaving Puerto Malagueno and looked set to sign but Barcelona have stepped in.

Poveda has already figured in a couple of friendlies for the Spaniards and played for Barcelona’s youth side against Jabac on Tuesday. They are now confident he is ready to commit to the club.

Teenage kicks: 14-year-old Colombian winger Giancarlo Poveda has opted to join Barcelona despite having a trial at Arsenal

Teenage kicks: 14-year-old Colombian winger Giancarlo Poveda has opted to join Barcelona despite having a trial at Arsenal

His family are based in Malaga and that has helped convince him that Barcelona is the ideal place for his career to develop.

The two clubs have locked horns over players frequently in recent seasons.

Barca are still upset at losing Jon Toral and Hector Bellern to Arsenal last year – rated as two of the most promising talents to emerge from their famed La Masia academy.

Now the potential signing of Poveda is being hailed as a retaliatory blow.

Grant Holt gives up on England

Holt gives up on England and blasts Hodgson for lack of opportunities

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UPDATED:

19:31 GMT, 4 October 2012

Norwich striker Grant Holt has given up hope of playing for England, labelling his omission from the pre-Euro 2012 friendlies against Norway and Belgium as 'ridiculous'.

The 31-year-old netted 15 Barclays Premier League goals last season to finish as the second highest-scoring Englishman behind Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.

He was nevertheless overlooked by Hodgson in the build-up to the Three Lions' campaign in Poland and Ukraine, and is not holding his breath for a future call-up.

Not happening: Grant Holt said his omission from the squad for the friendlies was ridiculous

Not happening: Grant Holt said his omission from the squad for the friendlies was ridiculous

'I gave up on that,' Holt told BBC Radio Norfolk. 'I think I'll never be in it. Roy's come in and picking his players.

'When two friendlies came up and I wasn't included, it was ridiculous to be honest.

'He hasn't given anyone opportunities – people like Nathan Dyer and Danny Graham from Swansea didn't even get a look in, but that's life.'

And Holt believes he is not the only player not being given a fair crack of the whip, picking out former Rochdale team-mate Rickie Lambert – who has scored four league goals for Southampton this term – as a prime example.

'He's scoring the goals,' the Carlisle-born player added. 'He's done well. But I think any neutral looking at that list (the latest England squad) could have written it down beforehand and not been far off.

'Unless Rickie Lambert scores 25 goals or bags 10 in the next two months I don't think he'll get close.'

Rough time: Roy Hodgson was blasted by Holt

Rough time: Roy Hodgson was blasted by Holt

Thomas Ince on the road to following in his father"s footsteps

The Fresh Pr-Ince: Tom’s second chance to follow dad to glory

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 27 August 2012

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UPDATED:

23:17 GMT, 27 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

It is one of the more barbed chants from a football fan’s repertoire: You should have stayed at a big club.

But with each dazzling performance Thomas Ince produces for Blackpool, he is showing that an unfulfilled journey through the ranks at one of English football’s superpowers does not necessarily mean the end of a player’s world.

Ince spent eight years at Liverpool’s academy, hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father, Paul. He played for England’s junior teams and threatened to become an established figure at Anfield. But, for all his determination and ambition, there was to be no fairy tale.

Proving his worth: Thomas Ince celebrates scoring his two goals for Blackpool against Ipswich

Proving his worth: Thomas Ince celebrates scoring his two goals for Blackpool against Ipswich

Other than two brief appearances in friendlies against Borussia Monchengladbach and Kaiserslautern when Roy Hodgson had just become Liverpool manager two years ago, and a cameo in the League Cup against Northampton, Ince’s path to the first team was blocked.

TOM INCE BY NUMBERS…

1 The number of senior appearances he made for Liverpool, coming on in the 106th minute of a shock League Cup third-round exit to Northampton in 2010.

8 His four goals this season are already halfway to his total in all competitions for Blackpool last season.

4 Liverpool offered the winger a four-year deal before he decided to move to Blackpool to play regular first-team football.

3 Ince’s age when he moved to Italy to watch his dad play in every match at the San Siro in a two-year spell at Inter.

‘I remember Thomas back in 1995 when I was Inter manager, as a small boy running around, kicking balls in his dad’s apartment,’ said Hodgson at the time. ‘He made sure Paul didn’t get too much peace after training and kept him fit! I have been impressed with him. He is a talented young man.’

Had Ince taken the easy route, he could have remained at Anfield, playing for the reserves and being involved sporadically in League Cup games. But, after a spell on loan at Notts County in late 2010, his decision to join Blackpool last August has reaped rewards.

In his words, it was a case of ‘moving into the real world’.

He flourished under Ian Holloway’s guidance last season, scoring in Blackpool’s play-off defeat by West Ham at Wembley, and has built on that impression at the start of the new campaign. By any standards, his display in the 6-0 drubbing of Ipswich was remarkable. Sportsmail’s Jamie Redknapp declared Ince his star player of the weekend.

The 20-year-old scored two goals and was involved in another three, showing exactly why clubs in the Barclays Premier League are looking at him. Swansea have led the chase and a move there would see him playing under Michael Laudrup, who was an outstanding dribbler, just as Ince is threatening to become.

Kissing the badge: Ince celebrates in front of the Blackpool fans

Kissing the badge: Ince celebrates in front of the Blackpool fans

But, typifying his refreshing attitude of just wanting to play, Ince has no desire to move before the transfer window closes, despite the attention of clubs in the top flight.
‘Of course I’ll be staying,’ he said. ‘I have to put tremendous faith back into Blackpool.

A year ago I was playing reserve-team football, and the gaffer and chairman brought me here. It took me a while to find my feet but, from January onwards, I’ve enjoyed my football.

‘Getting the goal at Wembley really lifted me and I knew I had to take that consistency on. The first three games have gone well for me and I have to keep doing that. My faith is in Blackpool. These players and this club allow me to express myself.’

Famous father: Paul Ince made his name at clubs such as Manchester United, Inter Milan and Liverpool

Famous father: Paul Ince made his name at clubs such as Manchester United, Inter Milan and Liverpool

After his explosive performance against Ipswich, Redknapp wrote: ‘Ian Holloway will be a nervous man before the window closes. His main goalscorer Matt Phillips remains a target, but winger Thomas Ince has a growing reputation too.

‘Four goals in three games have taken Blackpool top of the Championship and young Ince was involved in five of their six against Ipswich. He can play too.’

Blackpool have often been a selling club but Ince has taken the time to speak out about his loyalty and seems destined to stay… for now.

SIX MORE PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR…

Tom Ince isn’t the only Football League player attracting interest. Sportsmail looks at six others who may make a move before the window closes on Friday…

Matt Phillips (Blackpool)
Interested: Southampton
The 21-year-old winger handed in a transfer request 10 days ago but Ian Holloway will not let him go on the cheap and has already rejected a 5million offer from Southampton.

Mark Davies (Bolton)
Interested: Swansea
Michael Laudrup is keen to bring the midfielder, 24, to Swansea but his offer of 6m was turned down. Bolton want 10m but it is thought they will accept 8m.

Jack Butland (Birmingham)
Interested: Southampton, Spurs, Manchester City, Liverpool
Southampton have had a 6m bid rejected for the 19-year-old goalkeeper and Spurs are expected to offer 8m this week.

Martin Olsson (Blackburn)
Interested: West Bromwich
The Swede handed in a transfer request following Blackburn’s relegation and is yet to move, but Steve Clarke wants to add him to West Bromwich’s defensive cover before the week is out.

Marvin Emnes (Middlesbrough)
Interested: Swansea
If Scott Sinclair’s protracted move to Manchester City goes ahead it is expected Swansea will move for Emnes, having scouted the 24-year-old striker for 18 months.

Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield)
Interested: Blackburn
Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson was unhappy Blackburn went public with their 6m offer for his star striker — but claims no-one has got near their valuation.

By Sam Cunningham

Tom Cleverley: London Olympic experience will benefit Manchester United

Team GB Olympic experience has helped me prepare for United season, says Cleverley

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UPDATED:

07:41 GMT, 13 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Tom Cleverley believes the experience of playing for Team GB will benefit him in the forthcoming season as Manchester United look to wrestle ownership of the title back from rivals City.

Cleverley was an integral member of Stuart Pearce's side which reached the quarter-finals at the London Games, but he is now fully focused on domestic matters at Old Trafford.

United beat Hannover 4-3 in a friendly clash during which Cleverley made his first pre-season appearance before the season starts in earnest this Saturday, with the Reds kicking off against Everton on Monday.

Red alert: Cleverley turned out for United for the first time in pre-season in the 4-3 victory over Hannover

Red alert: Cleverley turned out for United for the first time in pre-season in the 4-3 victory over Hannover

He told MUTV: 'I've been away for a few weeks now but to come back into a good game in a good stadium and be playing with the world-class players we’ve got only helps your game, so it’s good to be back.

'I think the Olympics has been good for me. I’ve got six games under my belt including the two friendlies so I feel 100 per cent. I'm happy and looking forward to the season.'

And United assistant boss Mike Phelan heaped praise on Cleverley’s performance against Hannover, where Ryan Giggs also made his return after Team GB duty.

Leap of faith: Cleverley enjoyed the experience of playing for Team GB

Leap of faith: Cleverley enjoyed the experience of playing for Team GB

Phelan said: 'I thought Tom looked very, very sharp. He's played quite a few games for the GB team so he's probably ahead of schedule in some respects.

'Ryan probably needs to feel his way through it a little bit more, but Tom played a very, very good game for us.'

Gylfi Sigurdsson pleased with Tottenham debut goal

Sigurdsson pleased with start but Spurs star says he will keep his head down

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UPDATED:

11:56 GMT, 19 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Gylfi Sigurdsson says he hopes his debut goal for Tottenham in a friendly against Stevenage is a sign of things to come.

But the 8million Icelandic midfielder admitted that no matter how well he performs between now and the start of the season, the most important thing is to shine after it begins.

Tottenham ran out 2-0 winners with Sigurdsson breaking the deadlock and the 22-year-old revealed that new boss Andre Villas-Boas has told him to keep his cool.

Not carried away: Gylfi Sigurdsson will keep his head down

Not carried away: Gylfi Sigurdsson will keep his head down

'It was very nice to get a goal but I think the most important thing is getting used to playing football again,' explained Sigurdsson.

'It’s always nice to score – it probably would have been better to score in the Premier League – but it was good to get my first goal of the season and it will give me confidence for the next couple of weeks.

'I’m off the mark, but in a friendly it doesn’t really matter. There’s no point scoring in the friendlies if you don’t score in the league, so as long as I’m getting close to full fitness, and getting fitter and stronger every week, that’s the most important thing.

'The manager [Andre Villas-Boas] has kept me calm, he’s just said to keep my head down and train hard and if I do that for the next three or four weeks then I will take how I played last year into the new season.

'It’s nice to have pressure. It keeps you going and keeps you working hard but if you think too much about it then it could get into your head, and you play your best football when you’re enjoying yourself and if you’re relaxed – so that’s what I’ll try to do.

'Hopefully I can continue how I played for Swansea for Tottenham and do well for the team, score some goals and set up some goals.'

Sigurdsson revealed that Villas-Boas wants to play him in the same capacity that he performed in last season for Swansea.

'That role is very similar to how I played at Swansea,' said Sigurdsson. 'It’s right behind the striker and I enjoy it a lot. Hopefully I can play in that role here and do well for the team.

Strike: The Icelandic dynamo smashes in his first Spurs goal

Strike: The Icelandic dynamo smashes in his first Spurs goal

'Will we be playing with this same formation in the league You’ll have to ask the gaffer about that, I’m not picking the formation, but I think it will be quite similar to the way we played tonight.

'Tottenham have always played fantastic football. I remember watching them many years ago when I was younger, and they’d concede three but they’d score four.

'They’ve always played good attacking football and that’s how we want to play next season. Hopefully we can continue developing for the next three or four weeks and get a good start.

'It’s a really good squad and there’s even more players coming back now after the Euros. We’ve got a few boys coming back from injury so it was nice to see them out there playing, and we’re all quite pleased with the performance.

Fitting in: Sigurdsson seems at home already

Fitting in: Sigurdsson seems at home already

'I think most of the young lads were fantastic. Andros was very lively, Tommy [Carroll] was fantastic in midfield and then Yago came on and scored the second goal. We’ve got world-class players but we’ve obviously also got young players who are coming through, so that’s very good for the club.'

Sigurdsson has incinuated that Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric is likely to leave White Hart Lane.

'He’s a world-class player but when you’re a top-class player you’re going to be linked with other clubs, and he’s probably going to one of the biggest clubs in the world,' Sigurdsson said.

'If that’s true then I’m sure the club will bring someone in, but it’s probably not for me to comment on. I wasn’t here when he was here but I know he’s a fantastic player and he’s done really well for the club.'

Lucas Leiva ready to return from injury

Lucas set to return from lengthy spell on sidelines during North American tour

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UPDATED:

09:43 GMT, 19 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is set to make his return during the club's North American tour – two months earlier than expected.

New boss Brendan Rodgers intends to use the ball-winning Brazilian over the coming weeks, as Liverpool prepare for friendlies against Toronto, Roma and Andre Villas-Boas's Tottenham.

The former Swansea manager said: 'He’ll have some involvement. He’s still got some way to go to get back to where he was before the injury but he’s back two months early.

'This is normally a nine month injury. He’s been back in seven, and that’s great credit to his work and the work of the medics here.

Ahead of schedule: Lucas Leiva is set to return from an anterior cruciate injury early

Ahead of schedule: Lucas Leiva is set to return from an anterior cruciate injury early

'He’s done very, very well and is working very hard. We can feed him into some of the games and increase his mental capacity to improve, because obviously it was a serious injury.

Lucas has been unable to play since sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury. The Reds midfielder collided with Ryan Bertrand and had to be stretchered off during Liverpool's Carling Cup quarter-final victory against Chelsea.

'He’s a great guy, he loves his football, loves this club, and he’s making great progress,' Rodgers said.

Liverpool face MLS side Toronto on Saturday, and Rodgers is unsure whether Lucas will be fit enough to take part.

Base camp: Liverpool have begun training in Harvard ahead of their pre-season tour of the US

Base camp: Liverpool have begun training in Harvard ahead of their pre-season tour of the US

Base camp: Liverpool have begun training in Harvard ahead of their pre-season tour of the US

He said: 'We shall see. The maximum any player will play on Saturday is 45 minutes.'

Liverpool have taken a 34-man squad to their Harvard base, as Rodgers looks to get his side into shape to improve on their eighth place finish last season.

Rodgers, who is still getting to know his squad, is looking for his players to prove their desire as well as their ability.

'It’s the application, the desire to want to be in the side,' he said.

'There is a long way to go yet and we’ve got a big part of our preparation left, but the early stages have boded well for a number of players, because they’ve shown real appetite and a thirst to learn.

'They’re a really unified group and the young players are really trying to impress and show they can be in and around the first team.

New regime: Brendan Rodgers casts an eye over his squad

New regime: Brendan Rodgers casts an eye over his squad

'It’s also a credit to the senior players. Jamie Carragher, 34 years of age, has led by example. He’s still putting the miles in on the field and being a great example off it. Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger – all of them have been fantastic.'

Rodgers, whose tactical prowess was universally lauded at Swansea, is concentrating on getting his players fit first before he fully imposes his own style of play.

'That won’t kick in, really, until later on when the group is together,' Rodgers said. 'But in terms of a lot of the pressing work we’ve done, they’ve showed up really well.

'We’ve talked about possession and the importance of possession and I’ve seen great improvements in that in a couple of weeks.

'Their understanding and management of the game will improve as time goes on, but the most important thing (right now) is the physical condition and that’s looking very good.'