Martin Skrtel boosted by Liverpool competition

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel accepts his form has not always been the best this season but he is spurred on to improve by growing competition within the squad.

The Slovakia centre-back has put in a couple of shaky performances in recent weeks against the likes of Blackpool and Everton.

However, he helped secure the Reds' first Barclays Premier League clean sheet since December 6 in last weekend's 3-0 win at Wolves.

Skrtel is currently paired with Daniel Agger but with Jamie Carragher set to return from a dislocated shoulder in the coming weeks, Sotirios Kyrgiakos waiting in the wings, centre-back Martin Kelly excelling on the right and youngster Danny Wilson not even getting close to the squad, he knows he cannot afford to let his standards slip.

"I have played in almost every game this season and each time I always try to do my best for the team," he said.

"I know I have made a few mistakes and haven't always played well, but I don't know any player who doesn't make a mistake so I just try to do my best.

"It's important to keep playing well because we have a good squad and there is strong competition for places.

"I think that is a good thing because everyone has to work hard and make it hard for the manager when it comes to who he will pick in his team."

Kenny Dalglish has made some big decisions since taking over from Roy Hodgson just over a fortnight ago, some of them concerning the back four.

He has installed Kelly on the right in all his four matches in charge and been rewarded with some impressive performances, while he has opted to play England international Glen Johnson out of position on the left rather than Fabio Aurelio or Hodgson's signing Paul Konchesky - who has made just one of his squads as an unused substitute.

Further up the field Dalglish has started to get the best out of Raul Meireles in an advanced midfield role, while striker Fernando Torres' form appears to be back on track.

Everything came together for Liverpool to record only their third away league victory in 13 months at Molineux on Saturday and confidence, which had fallen so low under Hodgson, is returning to the squad.

Dalglish played down his part in that, shifting all the plaudits on to the players.

"When things aren't going as well as they could do for a football club and for individuals, it's very difficult to turn it around," said Dalglish. "But they've turned it around and it's great credit to them.

"They did fantastically well on Saturday but we want to go on and win more matches now.

"We've enjoyed the victory and it was a good atmosphere on the bus coming back from the game."

Skrtel admitted the shut-out against Wolves had given the defence, in particular, a boost.

"It was crucial we kept a clean sheet because this season we haven't had as many of them as we would like," he told

"A clean sheet always gives you confidence as a defender and if we can keep more of them then we will soon start to win more games."

The manager reserved some praise for the 20-year-old Kelly, who although selected regularly for Europa League games by Hodgson had made just two league appearances this season before Dalglish's arrival.

"Martin's done very well for the club," he said.

"He's like a new signing for the club because that's four on the spin he's played now.

"He's earned it and it doesn't matter what age you are, if you are performing you'll have a chance of playing.

"It is impressive when you come into a team that isn't playing as well as it can and you play as well as he has done."

Kelly is likely to keep his place at right-back for the visit of Fulham tomorrow, which will also see the return of captain Steven Gerrard from a three-match suspension.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam