Despite a widespread belief at the end of last season that his time at Anfield had come to an end and, more recently, a mysterious but minor injury of the sort that often befalls players on the verge of a move, defender Martin Skrtel today insisted he's ready to buckle down and fight for his place in Liverpool's starting eleven.
"I'm ready," said the Slovak centre half. "I was ready before and I'll always be ready. Then it's up to the manager who is going to start. I will try and I will give my all to get into the team. Every member of the squad is excited about Saturday because the pre-season was very long and we were all waiting for the first game of the season.
"I missed the last seven days through injury and I can say I'm feeling better now, but still not 100 percent fit. I still have two days until the game, so I hope that I can get better and be ready for the game on Saturday."
Even if he isn't quite at 100 percent, Brendan Rodgers expects both Skrtel and new defensive signing Kolo Toure to be available to play against Stoke on the weekend along with Daniel Agger. Though Agger will be a lock to start if healthy, who plays alongside him if both Toure and Skrtel are ready is less certain—especially given Toure has been the club's most impressive defender throughout pre-season.
"I think it's always good when there is competition for places and it's very important for your performance," was Skrtel's take on the prospect of having to compete for minutes if he does remain at the club. "The manager will decide who is in the best form and start that player. I'll do my best and all I can to make sure that I'm the one he's going to be starting with.
"Kolo is a great player. He's a very experienced player and he has been playing in the Premier League for a while. Throughout the five or six weeks he has been with us, he has shown that he is a quality player. He came in to play the same position as me, so we'll see who is going to start.
"Of course I will try to improve this season because I missed the second part of last season. I tried to do my best in the pre-season and show the manager I am able to play, so we'll see how it goes this season."
Skrtel Determined to Stay and Fight
While there remain doubts about his role at Liverpool moving forward, defender Martin Skrtel insists he's happy to compete with Kolo Toure for the chance to partner with Daniel Agger in the starting eleven.
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