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Martin Skrtel, Slovak Player of the Year, and Other Wednesday Notes

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martin skrtel player year

If you're looking for a rundown of today's friendlies, we had you covered earlier aside from late-breaking news that Scott Parker and not Steven Gerrard would be England Captain. But for those more interested in the latest Liverpool news than watching fearfully through their fingers, worried that one of Liverpool's players might end the day with an injury they didn't head into it with, these notes are for you. Even the part about Daniel Agger, I suppose. Though that doesn't mean you'll like it…

* Lost in the run-in to the League Cup finals on the weekend, we somehow managed to avoid mentioning that three months after returning from Blackpool, a time in which he's made just one start in the FA Cup and five further substitute appearances in all competitions, Jonjo Shelvey was reportedly heading back out on loan. This may have been a good thing, since it turns out he actually isn't. Or at least he probably isn't, and if he does it won't be to where everybody thought he was going.

The supposedly sound rumour had him set to head to Championship side Middlesborough despite that he'd spent a successful autumn with Blackpool, consistently starting for the side now in fourth and pushing for promotion back to the Premier League. After scoring six goals in ten starts and being named Young Player of the Month in November, it always seemed odd that he would find himself heading out to one of the clubs competing with them for promotion rather than going back to Blackpool should a thankfully fit Gerrard and the fact he's hardly a holding midfielder have led Liverpool's coaching staff back to the realisation he's better off getting games in the Championship than sitting on the bench in the top flight.

Blackpool thought this all seemed a little bit odd, too. So they called up Liverpool and asked about it, which led to them finding out that Shelvey wasn't in fact heading to Middlesborough and that if he were to become available on loan again then Blackpool would be the first club to hear about it. So yeah. Jonjo Shelvey probably isn't going out on loan after all. Move along.

* Big news emerged yesterday regarding one of the players getting ready to appear in a meaningless international friendly today, with Martin Skrtel being named Slovakia's footballer of the year by Pravda Slovakia and the Slovak Football Association. It marks the third time Skrtel has been named footballer of the year, and he now sits alongside Dusan Tittel as the second three-time recipient of the award. He narrowly beat out Napoli's Marek Hamsik by three points—the equivalent on one first place vote—in the tightest contest ever for the prize.

Needless to say, congratulations are in order for the defender, and it's good to know it's not just Liverpool fans who have noticed his impressive form that began soon after Steve Clarke and Kenny Dalglish arrived last January and has only seemed to get better with every passing week and month since. Speaking of which, if his season with Liverpool continues along its current path, the odds would have to be heavily in favour of him adding player of the season honours at the club level to that very soon.

* Speaking of injuries and internationals—and perhaps, tangentially, Martin Skrtel's chances at being named Liverpool's player of the season, too—at least this example of the former didn't happen at this week's examples of the latter. Not that that makes news that Daniel Agger has indeed suffered a cracked rib any easier to take given how important he's been to Liverpool's season so far and how important his absence could turn out to be in determining how Liverpool ends the year in the league and FA Cup.

Certainly Liverpool's defence seemed far shakier in the opening weeks of the season when Carragher, the man most likely to step in for the injured Dane, was still regularly patrolling the back line. No matter who steps in, though, after losing Lucas at the end of November this represents a second major blow both to Liverpool's defence and also to their hopes of a successful league season. As much as the players still available will have some way to go to make up for Agger's absence, it will also fall on the coaching staff to send the squad out in coming weeks with tactics to help cover for the loss of a defensive cornerstone.

We'll be back later with a recap of anything that happens in today's friendlies, but in the meantime, try not to worry about a thing…

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