Liverpool goalkeeper Reina must prove he's still No 1 at Anfield
22:46 GMT, 16 November 2012
Brendan Rodgers is ready to re-launch
Pepe Reina's season but has warned the goalkeeper he is facing the
biggest challenge of his Liverpool career.
Reina has missed the last seven games
with a hamstring problem that he initially sustained on internatinal
duty but, now he is fit again, the Spaniard is poised to replace Brad
Jones between the posts for Saturday's game against Wigan Athletic.
Close eye: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and Pepe Reina
Jones has not done much wrong during Reina's spell on the sidelines and the fact Rodgers is facing a decision to make about who to play has shown how much things have changed for him.
Since arriving at Liverpool from Villarreal in the summer of 2005, Reina has been the automatic choice as No 1 but while Rodgers has no doubt doubts about his ability, he wants to see an improvement in his form.
'I have no doubt with Pepe Reina,' said Rodgers. 'He has been very impressive since I came here and it's all about confidence. It happens to every goalkeeper. Look at Joe Hart against Sweden.
'He didn't seem to have that same happiness and physicality he had a few months. I have one of the top goalkeepers in the world, a top guy who is intent on making himself a better keeper and when we have that we have one of the best in Europe.
Focused: Reina during training
'He is really committed to his work, a model professional. I have been talking regularly with him to help him get back to the levels that he wants to be at. Pepe is determined to be a top goalkeeper here for next the nine or 10 years.'
There was a spell a couple of seasons ago when Reina was undoubtedly the best in the Barclays Premier League but his form has dipped over the last 18 months yet Rodgers feels the improvement Jones has made can actually help the 30-year-old back to where he once was.
'It's important for any player to know they have a challenge,' said Rodgers. 'Brad had been here two years and played four games, once from the bench. He's played ten games this season and done well, which is a credit to him.
'When I arrived he was number three but he has stepped up to the plate and I've seen great improvements in him over these months. He's shown that in his performances, so whatever happens we have a goalkeeper who has grown in confidence.'