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Rodgers Claims Formerly "Rash" Skrtel Now Among the League's Best

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Martin Skrtel's Liverpool career looked to be over after falling out of favor in early 2013, but development over the summer and fall has seen the Slovakian international work his way back into his manager's good graces.

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Clive Brunskill

As they settle into a four-man back line once again, Liverpool's starting partnership in central defense increasingly seems to be a matter of preference among supporters. Kolo Toure and Daniel Agger were the duo to start, with Martin Skrtel joining after Toure's injury, and after a somewhat lengthy experiment with three at the back (and four central defenders at the back in a match we're just not going to talk about again), Brendan Rodgers has resumed normal service with semi-healthy fullbacks available and four central defenders to choose from.

The choosing gets a little messy, though, with Skrtel still struggling to win over a decent portion of supporters on the heels of a dismal start to the 2013 calendar year. Most will agree that Toure's form doesn't warrant a starting spot any more, and while there's no doubt that the Slovakian captain has made strides since that time, he's not necessarily the man everyone wants to see week-in, week-out. That appears to fall in the favor of seeing Mamadou Sakho partner Agger at some point, which we've yet to see since Sakho arrived this summer.

Rodgers doesn't look quite ready to give that pairing a go, a notion that appears to be confirmed by the manager's effusive praise of Skrtel's progress ahead of Sunday's trip to White Hart Lane:

"I look at Martin Skrtel and I see someone who was proved me right. He hasn't proved me wrong - I think he's proved me right. Last year I felt he was rash and made mistakes. Now he's arguably one of the best centre-halves in the Premier League. He's composed, he looks bigger on the pitch and he's been brilliant during this run he's had in the team, so hopefully that will continue. He's another international captain who's still improving."

That's a slightly confusing bit of double-speak from the manager; if Skrtel were to prove the boss right, he'd be committing errors and having a rash (?) in Naples rather than starting nearly every match since coming into the side against Manchester United three-plus months ago. It's been a staggering turn of fortune for a player most had pegged for an exit over the summer, and ahead of their crucial two-week stretch to finish the year, he looks poised to lead Liverpool from the back.

Hopefully he proves past Rodgers wrong and present Rodgers right, and that future Rodgers makes up his mind about what to expect from Martin Skrtel.