I can handle Rooney, says new-boy Kromkamp

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Kromkamp has joined the so-called "Rafa-lution" from Villarreal in a swap deal under which Josemi has returned to Spain.

But while Josemi's stay on Merseyside proved unsuccessful, Kromkamp has vowed to make his mark with the European champions and is already aiming to displace Steve Finnan at right-back in time for Liverpool's game at Manchester United on 22 January - which would set up a mouth-watering confrontation with international colleagues Edwin van der Sar and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Yet it is the prospect of testing himself against Rooney once more which is the main reason he is relishing one of the most eagerly awaited fixtures in the English football calendar.

Kromkamp kept Rooney quiet as the Netherlands earned a goalless draw against England in a Villa Park friendly last February before he repeated the feat four months ago to the extent where the hot-headed United striker pressed the self-destruct button and got himself sent off as Villarreal stopped Sir Alex Ferguson's men winning in the Champions' League.

"Rooney's a very good player but I didn't encounter any particular problems on the night," said Rafael Benitez's first signing of the transfer window. "That makes me feel I can do a job for Liverpool in the Premiership. I did not have a lot of time to learn the language in Spain. I signed so quickly from AZ Alkmaar and then I was away with the national team.

"I did understand my team-mates but when Liverpool came along it was an easy decision to make.

"I speak good English already and I know something about the Premiership because Van Nistelrooy and [Robin] Van Persie are always talking about Manchester and London when I'm with them on international duty.

"The players in the Dutch team who play in England ... have all told me how good it is here. I have always wanted to play in England and now I have the chance."

Benitez, who is on the brink of bolstering his defence even further with the Denmark international Daniel Agger from Brondby for a fee of around £5.5m, is confident that Kromkamp will be a bigger success than the player he replaces.

"Jan's coming here to play as much as possible," said the Liverpool manager, who may delay Kromkamp's debut until after tomorrow's FA Cup third-round tie at Luton. "If he puts Finnan under pressure then that can only be good for the club. We need competition in all areas."

David Martin, the 19-year-old goalkeeping son of the former England and West Ham player Alvin, is close to joining Liverpool from Milton Keynes Dons after impressing during a trial.

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