McAteer must fight for his place says Evans

Roy Evans has told Jason McAteer to fight for his place in Liverpool's first team.The Republic of Ireland wing-back has been second choice to Rob Jones this season, prompting McAteer to raise questions over his future at Anfield.

Speculation about a move mounted when Liverpool bid for Internazionale's Massimo Paganin - a bid which failed after Evans baulked at his pay demands.

Evans said: "Jason has still got a part to play in my plans, he is not for sale. He was virtually an ever-present in the last couple of seasons and he will be expected to fight for his place."

Spurs are reported to be ready with a pounds 5m bid, but when McAteer returns from duty with the Republic of Ireland later this week it will be spelt out that Liverpool want him to stay.

Paganin opted to join Bologna, and Evans was scathing about the Italian's wage demands which would have seen him earn pounds 24,000 a week after tax.

He said: "People have got to be sensible. I'm disappointed it's broken down but you can't be dictated to like that on an amount you are going to pay. It was a step too far, we were never even close."

The Anfield chief is building up to only Liverpool's second home game of the season on Saturday against Sheffield Wednesday before the Uefa Cup clash with Celtic next Tuesday.

He admitted he is still on the look-out to boost his defence, particularly in the centre-back department, and that could mean he will again start monitoring Estonian skipper Marek Lemsalu, who impressed during a week's trial last month.

But one player Evans dismissed as being an Anfield target was the Paris St-Germain goalkeeper, Bernard Lama, who has only just returned to action in France after serving a ban for testing positive for cannabis.

The reserve team to play Birmingham at Anfield today will definitely include Oyvind Leonhardsen and Patrik Berger, but there is now some doubt about Robbie Fowler's involvement.

A late decision will be made, with Evans saying: "Of course there is some urgency in getting our top striker back, but no chances will be taken. He has to be 100 per cent, we won't take any risks."