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Liverpool will wear charity sponsor for West Brom game

Gerrard delight as Liverpool stick charity sponsor on shirts for West Brom clash

By
Rik Sharma

PUBLISHED:

10:26 GMT, 11 February 2013

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UPDATED:

11:22 GMT, 11 February 2013

Liverpool will wear a charity logo on their shirts for their clash with West Bromwich Albion on Monday night.

Glen Johnson, Steven Gerrard and Co will have the 'Seeing is Believing' logo on their chests, rather than the usual 'Standard Chartered'. The shirts will be signed by the players after the game and then auctioned off.

Among other Reds stars, Gerrard took part in some events to support the charity and was happy to be involved with the charity which tries to tackle avoidable blindness in developing countries.

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Positive contribution: Lucas Leiva models the shirt with the charity sponsor

Positive contribution: Lucas Leiva models the shirt with the charity sponsor

He said: 'You realise at the time how difficult it is without your sight. Especially doing activities. We were involved in a penalty shoot-out using a blindfold and it's so difficult.

'It was really enjoyable to take part and very important for myself and the club as well to play our part and try to help these people.'

Liverpool wore shirts with the same logo on last season in their final home match, against Chelsea, and the cash went to supporting the Standard Chartered charitable initiative.

Taking part: Steven Gerrard joined in with some events put on by the charity

Taking part: Steven Gerrard joined in with some events put on by the charity

On the ball: Gerrard plays keepie-uppie

They raised over 86,000 last time around and managing director Ian Ayre was glad to be able to try and do the same again.

He said: 'We’re once again proud to display the Seeing is Believing logo on our home shirt.

'Since Standard Chartered became the club’s shirt sponsor, we’ve worked closely with them to raise awareness for Seeing is Believing, both in the developing world and here in the UK.

'It’s a fantastic initiative and we hope
to raise as much as possible from the shirts to cure avoidable blindness
in developing countries.'

Throwback: Liverpool used the sponsor last season, here on Andy Carroll (centre) and Maxi Rodriguez (right)

Throwback: Liverpool used the sponsor last season, here on Andy Carroll (centre) and Maxi Rodriguez (right)

The Baggies will go into this evening's Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool at Anfield on the back of five defeats in their last six games.

Skipper Chris Brunt is convinced his side will emerge from their current slump now they face a less demanding schedule for the remainder of the campaign.

Brunt said: 'We are going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment but, for a club our size and for the money we've got and spent, we are still ninth in the league, 34 points.

'We are moving in the right direction but the last few weeks we haven't been great. We know that ourselves and know where we've got to improve to get it right.

Happy memories: Last time Liverpool wore the sponsor they smashed Chelsea at Anfield

Happy memories: Last time Liverpool wore the sponsor they smashed Chelsea at Anfield

'December and January is a pretty hectic period and it's one where we have tended to struggle a bit in the last few seasons and then picked up in February.

'Hopefully that will be the case again – starting on Monday. Our squad has been really stretched over the last few months, a lot of games and a few injuries have really hurt us.

'The boys have just had to play through it or play out of position because we don't have the luxury of rotating the team other clubs can to keep players fresher.'

VIDEO: Gerrard speaks about Seeing is Believing

If you want to bid for the shirts after the game, head to www.ebay.co.uk/perfectmatch.

Lucas thought career was over after injuries at Liverpool

Liverpool star Lucas feared career could be over after injury nightmare

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UPDATED:

09:12 GMT, 22 December 2012

Lucas Leiva has admitted he feared for his career after missing almost a year through injury.

The Liverpool midfielder damaged his cruciate ligaments in a collision with Chelsea's Juan Mata before suffering a thigh strain just a few games into his comeback.

And the 25-year-old Brazilian was worried his injury nightmare would never end.

All smiles: Lucas Leiva has recovered from his injury nightmare at Liverpool

All smiles: Lucas Leiva has recovered from his injury nightmare at Liverpool

'My first injury was a huge blow, but the second simply left me shattered,' he said in an interview published in Brazil.

'It was hard to take. You couldn’t help questioning if there was something wrong with my body.

'I thought “When is this going to end”.

'It goes without saying that I feared for the consequences for my career.'

Raring to go: Lucas hopes to help Liverpool improve their performances

Raring to go: Lucas hopes to help Liverpool improve their performances

Now fully recovered, Lucas is desperate to play his part in helping Liverpool climb the league.

'It’s a new beginning,' he added. 'After almost a year away, all I can think about is to play as many games as I can and gradually get back into form.

'It will be important for my confidence. I must not rush things but I am really eager to get back, especially after a lot of things changed at the club.'

Lucas Leiva makes comeback for Liverpool Under 21s

Lucas closing in on Liverpool comeback as midfielder plays 45 minutes for Under 21s

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UPDATED:

16:41 GMT, 23 November 2012

Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva has stepped up his fitness battle after coming through 45 minutes of action for the Reds Under-21 team.

The Brazilian has been sidelined with a thigh injury since August 26, his second serious injury in a year after he missed a large portion of the previous campaign with a knee problem.

But on Friday he showed the touch and positional sense of before as he impressed in the first half of the match against Middlesbrough.

On the mend: Lucas Leiva in action for the Liverpool youngsters on Friday afternoon

On the mend: Lucas Leiva in action for the Liverpool youngsters on Friday afternoon

Speaking before that match, boss Brendan Rodgers revealed he hopes to be able to call on Lucas for the visit of Southampton at Anfield on December 1.

He said: 'I think after today and a good week's training, next week he should be ready.

'He'll be a big player for us. He's got a wonderful football brain, knows the ideas we're trying to implement here and he's a real good man.

Back in the mix: Lucas could be in line to face Southampton in early December

Back in the mix: Lucas could be in line to face Southampton in early December

'He's worked very hard. He was unfortunate that he got the injury right at the start of the season having worked so hard on his knee, but indirectly his movement is a lot better now with his knee. He's had extra working time to prepare that and now he looks really strong and fit.'

Rodgers added: 'We've got good players in there. Lucas is a top professional, an international player, and he's got good experience in this country.

'He knows exactly what we're trying to do, so when you've got someone of that calibre coming back, it certainly makes you better.'

Luis Suarez storm: Ashley Williams plays down row ahead of Swansea v Liverpool

Williams says sorry to Suarez for revealing he'd like to 'knock out' striker ahead of Liverpool showdown at Swansea

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UPDATED:

17:55 GMT, 23 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers has revealed Ashley Williams has apologised to Luis Suarez for referring to the Liverpool forward as 'a serial diver' and wanting 'to knock him out'.

The Swansea captain caused a stir in midweek when an extract from his book, My Premier League Diary, was published and it contained a less than glowing testimony of Suarez following a 0-0 draw at Anfield last November.

Williams went as far as saying that Suarez was 'streets ahead' of anyone who he had disliked in the top flight and the nature of his comments were looked at by the Football Association, as they could have been construed as bringing the game into disrepute.

Grudge match: Luis Suarez and Ashley Williams will resume hostilities on Sunday

Grudge match: Luis Suarez and Ashley Williams will resume hostilities on Sunday

However, ahead of Liverpool’s trip to the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, Rodgers confirmed that that Wales international had contacted both him and Suarez to clear the air and, as far as Liverpool’s manager is concerned, that is the end of the matter.

‘I’ve spoken to Ash and Ash has spoken with Luis so there’s no issue there,’ said Rodgers. ‘When I saw it I was surprised because in my time there, knowing his character, he’s a good man with good intelligence and maturity.

‘Ashley is a terrific football player and when I saw those comments I found it hard to believe. I got the full explanation about how it seemingly got out there and he was very quick to apologise for that. That’s gone now and there is no problem there.

On the comeback trail: Lucas Leiva played for Liverpool U21s on Friday

On the comeback trail: Lucas Leiva played for Liverpool U21s on Friday

‘I’m sure they will shake hands on Sunday and get on with it.’

Rodgers returns to Wales for the first time since he quit the Liberty Stadium to succeed Kenny Dalglish with Liverpool defending a seven-match unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League that stretches back to September.

The irony of the situation, though, is that Swansea are actually better placed going into the game but Rodgers, who will make several changes to the side that drew 2-2 with BSC Young Boys in the Europa League, feels Liverpool are starting to make significant progress.

What’s more, Rodgers is soon set to welcome back key midfielder Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian played for 62 minutes of the Under 21s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough this afternoon and showed his fitness was good. The original plan had been for him to play just 45 minutes.

‘We are chipping away that was the idea this season,’ said Rodgers. ‘We had to manage and navigate through a lot of games. Where we finish at the end of the season is the most important thing. For us it’s just about continuing our improvement.

‘I think in the second half of the season we will get even stronger. We will get better in our ways of working and better in our understanding in terms of what we’re trying to achieve. We have a strong mentality in the league at the moment – that momentum is coming together.’

Brendan Rodgers unsure over Nuri Sahin future

Rodgers unsure over future of on-loan Real Madrid star Sahin

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UPDATED:

15:25 GMT, 1 October 2012

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he does not yet know whether he will be able to buy – or even afford – on-loan midfielder Nuri Sahin.

The Turkey international, who arrived late in August from Real Madrid, has taken a while to settle in but has scored three goals in his last two starts.

Sahin's improvement in form has come at the perfect time with Lucas Leiva still out injured and Jonjo Shelvey suspended.

Jumping for joy: Sahin celebrates after scoring in the win over Norwich

Jumping for joy: Sahin celebrates after scoring in the win over Norwich

But Rodgers insists it is still too early to make decisions on whether he wants to keep the 24-year-old or even whether Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho would let him go.

'I don't look beyond the loan period because there are lots of things which will determine whether he ever came here (permanently),' said the Reds boss.

'One has to be availability. Jose (Mourinho) may decide after one year playing he is really the type of player he wants around his squad.

'Two: He might not be affordable. Affordability is important as well.

'We'd all love Lionel Messi but whether you can afford him or he's available is another thing.

'All I can concentrate on is Sahin coming in here and helping him become the best player he can possibly be.

Kop star: Sahin will spend this season at Liverpool after penning a 12-month loan deal

Kop star: Sahin will spend this season at Liverpool after penning a 12-month loan deal

'If he finds he enjoys it here and he fits into the way we work, which I am sure he would do because he is a good guy and understands the game tactically and is prepared to fight for the club, then that is something come the end of the season we will talk about.

'But at this stage it is way too early. He is just starting to get up to speed fitness-wise but what he is is a real good guy and you have seen his performances.

'He has a wonderful left foot and the ability to score a goal and he was the captain of Borussia Dortmund at a very young age so he's got those natural leadership qualities.'

Knee-sy does it: The Turkey international has scored three goals in his last two starts

Knee-sy does it: The Turkey international has scored three goals in his last two starts

Liverpool's current captain Steven Gerrard insists he is not thinking about his long-term future just yet but believes he can play on beyond his current contract.

The 32-year-old signed a new deal in January which runs until the end of next season but he does not necessarily see that as a natural finishing point.

'We will have to wait and see,' said the midfielder at a golf event for his charity The Steven Gerrard Foundation.

'I'm enjoying my football, I feel physically strong, and I want to go on for a long time yet.

'I love playing for the club, I love being the captain. It's living the dream, so to speak.

'I'm enjoying playing under Brendan Rodgers. The training is good, it's a very exciting time, and hopefully I can continue to play and to contribute under the new regime.'

Liverpool"s Lucas Leiva to have scan on thigh

Lucas to have scan on thigh after hobbling off inside five minutes of City clash

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UPDATED:

17:56 GMT, 26 August 2012

Liverpool are sweating over the fitness of midfielder Lucas Leiva after the Brazilian hobbled off minutes into their 2-2 draw with Premier League champions Manchester City.

The 25-year-old missed most of last season with a knee injury but manager Brendan Rodgers allayed fears he had suffered a re-occurrence and Lucas will have a scan on his thigh on Monday.

Liverpool were denied all three points when Carlos Tevez took advantage of Martin Skrtel's mistake to earn the visitors a share of the spoils.

Blow: Lucas walks off after sustaining an injury against Manchester City

Blow: Lucas walks off after sustaining an injury against Manchester City

Hearts 0 Liverpool 1: It"s no joke for Rodgers but Reds" fringe have last laugh

Hearts 0 Liverpool 1: It's no joke for Rodgers but Reds' fringe have last laugh

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UPDATED:

22:26 GMT, 23 August 2012

August is the month when Edinburgh is
awash with comedians but nobody sported a bigger smile in this old city
than Brendan Rodgers on Thursday night.

At the end of a torrid 90 minutes in
which Liverpool had been pushed to the limit by a Hearts side who,
according to their pitch announcer, had ‘done their country proud’,
Rodgers spun on his heels, exchanged a firm handshake with his
assistant, Colin Pascoe, then clenched his fist with delight.

Just Fab: Borini celebrates Liverpool's winner

Just Fab: Borini celebrates Liverpool's winner

MATCH FACTS

HEARTS (4-2-3-1): MacDonald 7; R McGowan
6, Zaliukas 8, Webster 7, Grainger 7; Barr 7
(Robinson 87min) Taouil 7; Paterson 6,
Templeton 7 (Driver 78) Novikovas 7 (Carrick
84); Sutton. Subs not used: Enckelman (GK),
Smith, D McGowan, McHattie.

Booked: Barr.

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Reina 7: Kelly 7,
Carragher 7, Agger 7, Robinson 6
(Downing 61, 6): Shelvey 6, Spearing 6 (Allen
67, 7), Henderson 6: Sterling 8, Borini 5
(Morgan 90) Adam 7. Subs not used: Jones, Coates, Leiva, Flanagan.

Scorers: Webster (OG).

Man of the match: Sterling.

Referee: Meyer (Germany) 6.

Attendance: 15,965.

Emerging victorious, thanks to a late Andy Webster own goal, Liverpool will now in all probability advance to the group stages of the Europa League but if they are to go any further, the levels of quality in their games must dramatically improve.

‘We are not good enough to be complacent,’ said Rodgers in response to a question about whether Liverpool would be able to take things easy in the return leg at Anfield next week. ‘I was delighted with our commitment and it was a good win but Hearts were excellent. We respect our opponents.’

This was Liverpool’s first trip north of the border since they faced Celtic in 2003 but, without established stars such as Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and the hamstrung Andy Carroll, it became apparent from the first whistle that this would be anything but a formality.

Imbued with resilience, determination and courage, Hearts refused to be overawed by the heritage of their opponents and can be considered unfortunate not to have secured a draw. They may not have won in the SPL this season but that did not stop John McGlynn’s side being excellent. Roared on by a scarf-twirling, partisan crowd, they made the brighter start, gave the Liverpool goalkeeper a succession of anxious moments and, in the process, expunged the memory of the demolition job Tottenham did on them in this competition last season.

Tough break: Andy Webster (left) turns the ball past Jamie MacDonald (centre) to gift Liverpool the lead

Tough break: Andy Webster (left) turns the ball past Jamie MacDonald (centre) to gift Liverpool the lead

Tough break: Andy Webster (left) turns the ball past Jamie MacDonald (centre) to gift Liverpool the lead

Tough break: Andy Webster (left) turns the ball past Jamie MacDonald (centre) to gift Liverpool the lead

Mehdi Taouil (second left) tries to get a pass away under pressure from Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing

Committed: Mehdi Taouil (second left) tries to get a pass away under pressure from Martin Kelly and Jay Spearing

Ryan McGowan (right) battles with Raheem Sterling

Jump to it: Ryan McGowan (right) battles with Raheem Sterling

Though Liverpool had the first effort
when Charlie Adam cracked a left-foot drive that Jamie MacDonald pawed
wide, Hearts responded when Arvydas Novikovas forced Pepe Reina into a
back-pedalling parry with a dipping drive.

Sensing there was an opportunity for them to grasp — unlike when Spurs
visited 12 months ago and were two goals up within 13 minutes — Hearts
raised the tempo and next to try his luck was captain Marius Zaliukas
with a fizzing drive that sped just over the bar. With chairman Tom
Werner having travelled from America to make a surprise appearance,
Liverpool’s efforts made for uncomfortable viewing and it wasn’t long
before Rodgers got off his seat, pen and a note paper in hand, and
started whistling and barking out orders.

It didn’t make any discernible difference. Hearts continued to press and had two loud claims for penalties turned down.

But they should have found themselves trailing at the interval when Liverpool created the best chance of the game.

Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher under pressure from David Templeton early in the game

Under pressure: Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher

Raheem Sterling, the 17-year-old whose pace and energy had been by far
the highlight of Liverpool’s performance, seized on a loose ball and
showed excellent awareness and poise for one so young as he ushered in
Fabio Borini on the edge of the area. Somehow, though, the Italian
struck the post. If Borini was erratic, the same could not be said of
the jet-heeled Sterling.

It was only a month ago that Rodgers said he wanted to send the
youngster out on loan to accelerate his development but, such are the
strides he has made in the time since, that idea has been scrapped.

‘I have spoken to Raheem and I have told him he won’t be going out on loan,’ said Rodgers.

So close: Fabio Borini sees his shot smack the post

So close: Fabio Borini sees his shot smack the post

The Italian can't quite believe it as his golden chance goes begging

Head in hands: The Italian can't quite believe it as his golden chance goes begging

The second half did, at least, see Liverpool exert more control. Hearts
began with an initial flurry of pressure but there was a calmness about
the way the defensive triumvirate of Reina, Jamie Carragher and Daniel
Agger — the wise old heads of the team — retained possession.

With the pacy Sterling as an option up front, there was always a chance
that they would fashion something on the break and so it proved in the
77th minute when Martin Kelly ended up firing a cross into the six-yard
area that cannoned into the unlucky Webster and into the net.

Little wonder, then, that Rodgers was so pleased at the final whistle
and it turned out to be a good day all around for the manager, as
Liverpool expect to wrap up the season long loan singing of Real Madrid
midfielder Nuri Sahin, subject to him passing a medical.

‘I thought we managed the game well,’ said Rodgers, who refused to
comment about the Premier League investigation into claims from Fulham
that they tapped up Clint Dempsey.

‘It was a good win but it was always
going to be a tough game. Now we have to make sure we finish the second
leg.’

Watching brief: Brendan Rodgers and Andy Carroll before the match

Distant: Andy Carroll (left) and Brendan Rodgers seem frosty

Carroll watches from the stand

Missing out: Carroll watches from the stand

10 to watch in the Premier League: Jamie Redknapp

My 10 to watch in the Premier League this season

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UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 16 August 2012

Every season I pick my 10 to follow. They are not all new signings, but they are all players I am looking forward to seeing when the season gets underway this weekend. And these are my picks for this campaign… keep an eye out for how they perform.

1 Joe Allen, Liverpool

A modern midfielder who doesn’t go to ground in the tackle but stays on his feet. He is a superb reader of the play, intercepts the ball and has the annoying habit of passing to a team-mate. The obvious question is: can he cope with moving to Liverpool from Swansea Joe has so much in his favour, with a manager who obviously loves him and the chance to play alongside Steven Gerrard. That midfield three of Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and Allen looks to be dripping with quality.

Getting his man: Brendan Rodgers brought Joe Allen (right) to Anfield

Getting his man: Brendan Rodgers brought Joe Allen (right) to Anfield

2 Eden Hazard, Chelsea

I sat with Joe Cole last season and asked him about Hazard. ‘Jamie, this boy is so good, he can become the right-footed Messi of the Premier League,’ he said. Now we will find out. Joe played with him at Lille, where Hazard has been double French footballer of the year. He’s quick with the ball, with more pace than David Silva. He will play between the lines. The Premier League is different now, more Continental. It means foreign players can adapt quickly.

Wizard: Eden Hazard (right) is set to dazzle the Premier League

Wizard: Eden Hazard (right) is set to dazzle the Premier League

3 Papiss Cisse, Newcastle

So, can he do it again An explosive arrival in the Barclays Premier League last season, he started scoring for Newcastle and didn’t stop. It was the range of his goals that most impressed me — tap-ins, headers and worldies from long distance. It will be harder for him this time, as it will be for Newcastle, who went from relegation contenders to a top-six finish, thanks to some clever buys and good coaching by Alan Pardew. Can they all do it again

Second season syndrome: How will Papiss Cisse fare after an incredible start to his Newcastle career

Second season syndrome: How will Papiss Cisse fare after an incredible start to his Newcastle career

4 Santi Cazorla, Arsenal

My dad, Harry, was driving the Tottenham chairman mad trying to get them to buy this boy: he is top class, a special footballer. He’s another Cesc Fabregas, a lovely slider of a through ball who will create chances. He’s 27 and the reason why he hasn’t played more for Spain is because of Xavi and Iniesta. He is 5ft 6in and can play left or right and is a drifter, who finds space behind the front players. He’s a typical No 10. This is another tough season ahead for Arsenal, but if he bonds with Mikel Arteta, he will make a big difference.

Watch out: Santi Cazorla (left) will add much to Arsenal

Watch out: Santi Cazorla (left) will add much to Arsenal

5 Yaya Toure, Manchester City

City’s dream machine and every midfielder’s nightmare to play against. He scores goals, wins the ball, tackles, heads and charges at you… he makes me glad to be retired from playing! You’ll notice a trend among my list, which includes a number of old-fashioned, skilful No 10s. Toure is the opposite to them. A powerhouse of a footballer, an absolute monster, and his form at the end of last season propelled City to the title. I was tempted to include Carlos Tevez in this group, but Toure is more influential. They need to keep him fit.

Dynamo: Yaya Toure is magnificent athlete

Dynamo: Yaya Toure is magnificent athlete

6 Rickie Lambert, Southampton

I’ve watched him grow into a real threat as a centre forward, scoring goals in Southampton’s back-to-back promotion seasons and rising to each new challenge since Alan Pardew signed him for 1million from Bristol Rovers. Rickie has scored 78 goals in 132 League games for Southampton and was the Championship’s player of the season. Look out for his free-kicks, struck with power and dip. He might need to score early to help his confidence, but Grant Holt adapted last season. Lambert can, too.

Goals at every level: And now Rickie Lambert will test himself at the top

Goals at every level: And now Rickie Lambert will test himself at the top

7 Junior Hoilett, QPR

QPR have ambition. Park Ji-sung is an interesting signing from Manchester United to give them energy in midfield. They already have Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora, which suggests they are trying to stretch into the top 10. They still need more quality at the back, although one player I’m certain is a terrific signing is Hoilett, from Blackburn. He is quick, direct, scores goals and can play across the front line. I’m surprised a top-six team didn’t buy him.

Superb buy: Mark Hughes was canny in getting Junior Hoilett from Blackburn

Superb buy: Mark Hughes was canny in getting Junior Hoilett from Blackburn

8 Steven Caulker, Tottenham

Look out for this boy: he’s elegant, a lovely footballer and he’s lightning quick, having been a schoolboy 200m champion. After a season at Swansea on loan last season, he’s ready for a first-team berth. Picked for Team GB during the Olympics, he was in the England squad for this week’s friendly against Italy and won’t want to be sitting on the sidelines. I’m certain Liverpool, now managed by Brendan Rodgers, would love to take him.

Impressive season: Steven Caulker (right)

Impressive season: Steven Caulker (right)

9 Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United

Chelsea have Hazard, City have David Silva… United have Kagawa. A lovely passer, who will play between the lines and give United something they have been missing. The Japanese playmaker, who won the double in Germany for Borussia Dortmund last season and will look to restore trophies to the United boardroom. Gifted, with excellent balance and control. I’m looking forward to seeing him link up with Wayne Rooney. He can be a big star at Old Trafford.

All-action: Shinji Kagawa

All-action: Shinji Kagawa

Top buy: Nikica Jelavic

Top buy: Nikica Jelavic

10 Nikica Jelavic, Everton

Like Cisse at Newcastle, this Croatian centre forward proved that January signings can settle down quickly. He scored nine goals in 13 Barclays Premier League games and proved he could step up from the Scottish Premier League with Rangers. Their fortunes have certainly gone in the opposite direction since! A natural goalscorer, who can lead the line and score with both his head and his feet. David Moyes knows a good bargain and proved that with Jelavic. When you don’t have much money to spend, it’s important to use what you do have wisely.

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.'

Fabio Aurelio joins Gremio after Liverpool release

Aurelio returns to Brazil with Gremio after full-back is released by Liverpool

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UPDATED:

07:11 GMT, 25 May 2012

Going home: Fabio Aurelio

Going home: Fabio Aurelio

Gremio have announced the signing of Fabio Aurelio after the defender was released by Liverpool.

The 32-year-old left-back returns to his native Brazil after 12 years in Europe, split evenly between a six-year spell at Valencia and his time at Anfield.

Aurelio was troubled by injuries while at Liverpool and was allowed to leave at the end of the 2009-10 season before rejoining the club that August after Roy Hodgson became manager.

Further injury problems followed, however, and he barely featured in the last 12 months under Kenny Dalglish, making just two Premier League appearances in the 2011-12 campaign.

His new club announced the acquisition on their official website, stating: 'Gremio confirm agreement with the left-back Fabio Aurelio Rodrigues. The player's contract extends to December 31, 2013.

'The player, developed at Sao Paulo, has been with Liverpool in England since 2006 and also served for six years at Valencia in Spain.'

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva wished Aurelio well, writing on Twitter: 'Gremio signed Fabio Aurelio. What a great news.'