• Joe Cole in line for first Liverpool start in three months
• ‘I had two incredible years at Swansea,’ says Rodgers
Joe Cole is expected to make his first proper start of the season for Liverpool in the Capital One Cup game against Swansea, with Brendan Rodgers also likely to give Samed Yesil his chance to lead the attack with Luis Suárez and Steven Gerrard allowed a rest.
Cole has only started for Liverpool once this season, in a Europa League game at the start of August, but his manager was quick to quash speculation that his lack of games might lead him to regret not returning to France, where he had a successful season long loan with Lille in 2011-12.
“You don’t walk away from Liverpool,” Rodgers said. “Maybe nine out of 10 clubs you could walk away from, if you had the prospect of Champions League football somewhere else, but you are not going to do that here. Liverpool is one of the biggest clubs in the world.”
Cole returned to Merseyside when Rodgers indicated he would like to have him in his squad, only to last 23 minutes against FC Gomel, his first Liverpool start for over a year, before a hamstring injury. “It’s been difficult for him because he worked hard in the pre-season and then got injured, and other players have come in and done well,” Rodgers said. “I’m not going to throw them on to the garbage because a more senior player is available again. This is an opportunity for Joe to come in and prove himself … he’s working very hard and he’s very keen to be a success at Liverpool, no complaints there. Joe isn’t the type of player who would want to be picked on what he has done before, he knows it the form of players at present that’s important. He wants to show he has a future here, and just needs games to show what he can do.”
Rodgers, left, was making a similarly difficult decision in the summer, weighing up the chance to manage Liverpool against the success and the friends he had won with Swansea. “Joining Liverpool should have been a no-brainer, but I had had my fingers burnt before,” he said.
“I left Watford, a club where I was really happy and the team was progressing really well, and I went to Reading and didn’t have the best experience. I knew I had to go to the right club, and Swansea turned out to be a perfect fit. There are probably a lot of clubs in this country that I couldn’t go and work for, because of the way I work. It’s not the norm.
“I had two incredible years at Swansea, the players were brilliant, very receptive to my ideas, and we had success. I built up a close relationship with the supporters and my family was happy and settled. I knew I was in a good place and I wasn’t in a particular hurry to leave. So Liverpool represented a bit of a dilemma. It was tough to say goodbye to people who had helped me personally, giving me a lot of support when my parents died, for instance, so there was an emotional attachment as well. But the professional challenge was too great in the end. With Liverpool I felt I was walking into a club that could be a real destination for me for many years to come.”
Rodgers is hoping the same can be said of Suárez, who might well have felt aggrieved at Everton putting his perceived lack of sportsmanship under the spotlight ahead of the Merseyside derby, but found a response that most people enjoyed. He is clearly not a sulker. Controversy will probably continue to follow the Uruguayan around, but Rodgers cannot see him being hounded out of English football. “I speak with Luis regularly and he loves playing English football,” Rodgers said.
“He loves the passion and the excitement, as I think you can see. He’s mentally very strong and if people give him stick it’s a driver for him, it motivates him. He loves the city, he loves the club and I can’t see any chance of him being driven away. He is our only fit striker but he’s been tireless. His enthusiasm is outstanding. I think he’s a breath of fresh air.”
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