Where Does Martin Skrtel Stand?

Michael Dodge

By the end of last season it appeared that the Slovakian defender would be leaving Liverpool, but as the summer's progressed it seems that there might still be a place in the squad for Martin Skrtel. The question is where.

Few players in the current Liverpool squad have seen their stock rise and fall over the past two season as Martin Skrtel--an impressive 2011-2012 campaign at the heart of Liverpool's central defense saw him named the club's player of the season, and he started the 2012-2013 as one half of the first-choice pairing alongside Daniel Agger. High-profile errors and declining form saw him exiled from the starting eleven, with the disappointing showing at Oldham in the FA Cup the final straw for a player who was now viewed as expendable. As the summer approached, talk of an exit grew, especially as Liverpool were linked with a handful of younger defenders.

With little progress made in bringing someone else aboard, however, Skrtel's spot in the squad remains. Most have Kolo Toure ahead of the Slovakian in the depth chart, and Brendan Rodgers' selections over the course of the first three preseason friendlies--Toure and Agger have been frontrunners, with Skrtel partnering the impressive Andre Wisdom--appear to confirm that, barring any additions over the next three weeks, Skrtel will be on the bench rather than in the starting lineup again.

There could still be a move away from Anfield in Skrtel's future, but between his form over the first three friendlies and the lack of links elsewhere, there's a strong possibility that he could still be a Liverpool player after the transfer window closes. Without a spot in the eleven guaranteed that could be viewed as off-putting, but according to the player (at least publicly), he's willing to put in the work to regain his spot:

"Every day is a competition and you need to work hard and show your best every day in training. Since I came to Liverpool there's always been three, four or even five players that play centre-back. It wasn't easy but I try to do my best and I try to show my manager that I'm able to play."

Even if it's just talk, it's heartening to read a player discuss his willingness to stay and fight for a spot that was once his rather than head elsewhere; possible destinations might be limited, but he'd able to go somewhere else on the continent and start immediately, likely for a side playing Champions or Europa League football.

There's no doubt that he's got some ground to make up given the way last season ended, and if the club do bring in another central defender--which most seem to think they well--he could end up as the odd man out. If not, there's a chance to reclaim his spot alongside Agger, and hopefully find the form that saw them combine as one of the league's better defensive pairings.

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