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Skrtel Back, a Milestone for Carra, and Reina for Captain

In case it's not obvious, I'm really stretching for anything worth posting.

And almost disappointingly, the first news I read of the day is something that completely contradicts the narrative of "all Liverpool news is bad news." Martin Skrtel, who's been out since Liverpool's trip to Bucharest in late February, has returned to full training with the squad. I can't imagine that he'll feature against Hull at the weekend, but it's good news for a player that will no doubt be an important part of his country's World Cup ambitions (not unlike another injured Liverpool star).

Unfortunately for Skrtel, this comes way too late in the season, but it makes him relevant again prior to what's sure to be a busy offseason. Central defense is not an area in which Liverpool need to import much talent---Jamie Carragher and Daniel Agger held steady during the last half of the season, at least until more injuries forced Agger to left back, Sotirios Kyrgiakos was an able-bodied fill-in, and we even caught another glimpse of Daniel Ayala in recent weeks.

The question with Skrtel, as with the rest of the back line at full fitness, is where he'll fit when the 2010-2011 season rolls around. Carra's probably got at least one more year in which he's a no-doubter in the first eleven, Agger seems like one for the future in a couple different roles, and the younger talent (Martin Kelly, Ayala, etc.) will be pushing for time in the near future. Skrtel's not quite as adaptable as the other names here---Stuart Downing is probably still haunting his dreams from his time at right back against Middlesborough---but doesn't necessarily need to be. The Slovakian is a beast in the air and is steady enough to handle the most physical of strikers in the Premier League, but does lack in pace and has been inconsistent at times. I don't think that he pushes Carra or Agger out of the starting eleven on form alone, and with Johnson and Insua (or a new face) looking like the first-choice partnership heading into next season, Skrtel might have to bide his time.

And speaking of Carra, it's going to be down to the wire to see if he can displace Alan Hansen in the eighth spot for all-time appearances in league for Liverpool. Sunday would mark his 435th in league and 630th in total for the club, which is absolutely astounding. Regarding the injury, though, I'm still not certain as to how it happened. I know the reports say he turned an ankle, and that shortly thereafter Lampard notched Chelsea's second, but beyond that I can't remember any incidents of note. Of course, prior to the Lampard goal nearly all the action in the match was in the Liverpool box or thereabouts, so any number of scenarios could have played out.

Anyways, it's time to cue the "in these times" soliloquy about Carragher and his commitment to the club. I know earlier in the season there were stories about his openness to playing somewhere else, and that may still happen down the road if opinions differ about his first-team capabilities, but it really is quite remarkable for such a talented player to show his type of loyalty to a club for such an extended period of time. To make 630 appearance in one shirt is a milestone by any standard, but to do it with the level of passion and pride that we see from him is truly outstanding.

As such, Carra has managed to make himself somewhat of an authority on the leadership and ethos of Liverpool. And for him, the captain for the future could be Pepe Reina (he also mentions Javier Mascherano, but that ruins my attention-grabbing title). I think most anybody who's followed Liverpool at all this season would agree that Reina's become one of, if not the best representatives for the club on the pitch, and his leadership apparently extends far beyond that.

Earlier in the season Reina made the rounds declaring his love for Liverpool---for the city, for the club, for the fans, for the history. And it never came across as inauthentic or forced, and he's never played a minute that would contradict that image. Even in the fleeting moments when he appears disaffected (which I discussed here), you get the sense it's not for lack of pride or trying. But even taking into account a bumpy campaign from Steven Gerrard, there's little chance that we'd see Reina in a captain's, or even vice-captain's, role until either Gerrard or Carra leave the club through transfer or retirement.

Lastly, transfer news that indirectly involves Liverpool---Marouane Chamakh confirmed that he's Arsenal-bound come season's end. Liverpool were rumored to be in the running for the Bordeaux striker, which was also confirmed by Chamakh, but he chose North London as his English destination. More information on the transfer and reactions from the always most-excellent Martin at Arsenal Offside.

As I mentioned, the Chamakh transfer is indirect Liverpool news at best, but it serves as a good reminder that in a short time, there will be actual news about comings and goings. This one doesn't see any personnel changes for the Reds, but given the amount of turmoil the club's been through this season, something tells me those stories aren't far off.

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