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Skrtel "Very Much" Part of Rodgers' Plans

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While his playing time has dwindled to near-nothing during the second half of the Premier League season, Martin Skrtel is still viewed as someone with a part to play in the club's future by his boss.

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Mike Hewitt

The seasons of Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher this season have seen roles reversed completely--the former started out as first-choice in central defense along with Daniel Agger, and while there were a few high profile blips that cost Liverpool points, he seemed to have the full backing of his manager. Until Oldham in the FA Cup, at least, which cemented a change that Brendan Rodgers had implemented a week earlier at Norwich.

Since that time it's been all Carra all the time, and the veteran's justified his place with a number of impressive performances. Skrtel's suffered from the club's failures in domestic and European cup competition, which has left him with only a handful of minutes as the club see out a mostly disappointing Premier League season. The switch had to wear on Skrtel, who's been the subject of transfer talk away from the club this summer, but Rodgers is seemingly attuned to the Slovakian captain's mood and is optimistic about the player's future at the club:

"We made the change a few months back and I think Carragher has arguably been one of the best defenders in the league and Daniel Agger has been fresh and played very well. It has been unfortunate for Martin but he has been a loyal member of the squad and is still very much part of my plans here.

"He's happy here, he's not in any rush to leave but players want to play. I haven't had any concerns with Martin at all, his attitude has been first class. It is important they know where they stand and he knows where they stand. He is very much a part of what we are trying to do here. We are trying to build up a group with a winning mentality and he's got a winning mentality. It's just unfortunate he lost his place."

I have a hard time considering that this means Skrtel's Liverpool future is anywhere near safe; I don't know that Rodgers was looking to make that sort of assertion here, but whenever I read that players want to play my first reaction is that they're going to be doing their playing somewhere other than their current residence.

As others have noted, though, shipping off Skrtel along with Carragher's retirement and the generally agreed-upon move somewhere--permanently or temporarily--for Sebastian Coates would signal a worrying amount of turnover in a defensive unit that never really seemed to settle this season. They seem to have done so over the past few weeks, but that's with Jamie Carragher as one of the central components, and that's only going to be a reality for another week or so.

I'm certainly not on the Skrtel OUT! bandwagon, and I've got some level of affection for a player that's done nothing but bust his ass since coming to the club. The last two matches of the season, which will likely see him line up alongside Carragher with Daniel Agger missing out for back treatment, could go a fair ways towards launching the player into next season--either as part of Rodgers' plans, as the manager proclaims, or away from the club he's called home since 2008.