Martin Skrtel vows to fight for place at Liverpool

Defender has fallen out of Brendan Rodgers' favour

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has vowed to fight for his place having fallen out of favour with manager Brendan Rodgers.

The Slovakia international lost his first-team spot to veteran Jamie Carragher, who is retiring at the end of the season, after January's FA Cup exit to League One Oldham.

He has started just one Premier League match - against Southampton when Carragher was injured - and has featured only three times since then.

Rodgers has been heavily linked with a move for Wales captain and centre-back Ashley Williams, with whom he worked at former club Swansea, in the summer.

That would put more pressure on Skrtel but the 28-year-old is determined to stand his ground.

"This is what happens in football and this time it was my turn," he told his official website, martin-skrtel.com.

"I have to respect it and wait for my chance and I hope my chance will come before the end of the season.

"Those who know me know that I will fight for my place in the team."

Rodgers knows he has to bring in quality in the summer if he is to bridge the gap between his side's current seventh place and the Champions League spots.

He has also been linked with Ajax's Denmark international Christian Eriksen, one of Europe's hottest young prospects.

And while the Reds boss accepts they do not have the finances to compete with some of Europe's biggest spenders, he has identified the players he wants to continue rebuilding.

"Like every other club you want to be making improvements constantly," Rodgers said.

"Unless you have absolute multi-millions to spend and make a big impact over one window then you have to do it over a number of windows.

"This will be another window which will be important for us in order to strengthen the group, to add quality to the group, because that can bring us up to another level.

"You have to be specific. You look at the profile of the players fitting into the way we want to work and then make sure they have the right mental characteristics to come into here.

"You can have players who are very good but can they play for Liverpool in their head? That is key for us going forward.

"We have to bring in players who will be mentally right and accept the challenge and not just be happy to be at Liverpool.

"To be at Liverpool means you have to be successful and you want to win things and we've no God-given right to do that. We have to earn the right and that is why we need those players who want to come in and earn the right."

Hanging on to striker Luis Suarez is also key to Liverpool's top-four aspirations next season.

The Uruguay international is the league's top scorer with 22 - he could become the first Liverpool player to score 25 in a league campaign since Robbie Fowler in 1995-96 - and has 29 for the season, which is why he is attracting interest throughout Europe.

Suarez only signed a new contract last summer and continues to stress he is happy at Anfield, and Carragher admits it is vital to hang on to the striker.

"He is one of the top players, not just in the Premier League but in world football," he told Sky Sports News.

"We are desperate to keep him. I'm sure he will be staying, I think he loves it here and the fans love him.

"It's not just Suarez, we have got lots of top players and we want to keep hold of them all. That is important for the club.

"Where we are in the league, it's important that we improve the squad and bring in some additions."

Suarez has not scored for three games but, after drawing another blank against West Ham last weekend, Rodgers insists his star man is not feeling the effects of a long campaign, during which at times he has carried the side single-handedly.

"What he maybe showed last weekend was he is human, but the level of his consistency this season has been incredible," added the Northern Irishman, who faces former club Reading tomorrow.

"He showed sometimes he is not always going to be nine or 10 out of 10. Luis may have not have been a nine out of 10 but he was certainly a seven for his work-rate and his intensity.

"From time to time he will have games like that but it just shows you the level he has reached this year, where he can still have a good game but because he doesn't score he is regarded as not being at as high a level.

"He has that mindset where he wants to play every game and we're certainly better off with him in the team than out of it."

PA

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