Writer: Gavin Kelley-Day
Date:Tuesday February 26 2013
Reds centre-back Martin Skrtel has questioned his recent absence from the team and the reasons given to him by manager Brendan Rodgers...
Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel, who lost his place in the Liverpool starting eleven to veteran Jamie Carragher last month, has voiced his disappointment at the development and also queried the reasons given to him for the decision by Kop boss Brendan Rodgers.
The 28-year-old, who was Liverpool's Player of the Season under previous manager Kenny Dalglish, struggled at the start of the current campaign to adapt to Rodgers' new preference for passing the ball out of defence but of late he has also surprisingly struggled to cope with the physical presence of certain centre-forwards.
Aston Villa's Christian Benteke, Carlton Cole of West Ham United and famously League Two battering ram Matt Smith, who helped Oldham Athletic shock the Reds in the FA Cup, have all enjoyed success against Skrtel in recent months.
Speaking of his absence from the team, Skrtel revealed to Denik Sport: "He [Rodgers] gave me some explanation, but it's hard to tell if it was the true reason he gave me.
"I don't think it was and think there is something else behind it."
Despite signing a new contract in August, the comments clearly raise question marks over Skrtel's long-term future at Anfield.
The impending retirement of Carragher and the probable departure of back-up option Sebastian Coates are likely to lead to a number of new defensive faces in the Reds squad next season.
"It all happened after our match with Manchester United in the middle of January," elaborated Skrtel on why he was dropped.
"We lost 2-1 but I think that particularly in the second half we played very well. Moreover, a lot of sources gave me a good rating. But he told me we had lost the organisation of play in the defensive line and that this would be the reason why I would not play in the following matches...
"Anyway, I'm not the type of player who would be chasing the coach and be in his office all the time, asking for explanations why I'm not playing. If the coach wants to tell me something, he will summon me. I would not like to make any unnecessary conflicts."
According to the Daily Telegraph, Russian clubs Zenit St Petersburg and Anzhi Makhachkala are among those monitoring Skrtel's situation but the former Zenit man claims he will remain on Merseyside for the time being at least.
"It would be useless to think about a transfer during the season even if it is true that you can move to Russia till the end of February," added Skrtel.
"I have come across such views that it would not be correct to consider leaving a club where you have been on the bench in four or five fixtures. On the other hand, it is hard to put up with it. For three years at Liverpool I was playing in almost every match. I have had various thoughts but certainly I'm not going to make any hot-blooded decision...
"If the coach should lose interest in keeping me in his team, then we would have to handle it with my agent. For the present it is valid that I am at Liverpool where I have a long-term contract and I am not thinking about leaving."
The Slovakia captain picked up a knee injury in training last week which forced him to miss Thursday night's brave Europa League exit but he is likely to be available for selection again this weekend when Liverpool travel to Wigan Athletic.
Skrtel was brilliant last season but I'm sure he will be the first to acknowledge that performances this term have been far more inconsistent. Although clearly nobody wants players to be content with merely sitting on the sidelines, speaking out publically rarely solves the problem and usually only serves to exasperate it further. It would be disappointing to see a player of his quality leave but, depending on who is available during the summer, it might be a sensible decision to cash in on Skrtel and find someone who better suits Rodgers' playing style. In the same way Andy Carroll was ruthlessly cast aside, the manager is right to select and purchase players he feels will be able fulfil his vision for the team.
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Date:Tuesday February 26 2013
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