The Guardian

GUARDIAN – Daniel Agger believes Raheem Sterling can make England World Cup squad

• Liverpool winger can handle pressure in Denmark friendly• Agger says ‘Sterling has qualities England could use’Daniel Agger is confident that Raheem Sterling can handle the pressure of senior international football as he targets a place in England’s World Cup squad. Agger, who will be in the Denmark defence that faces England on Wednesday night, said: “He can handle the pressure, or else he would not play for us, for Liverpool.It’s a great opportunity for him. If he continues what he is doing right now I cannot see why not make the World Cup squad. He is a great, great talent and has some qualities England can use.”Despite finishing second in their group to Italy, Denmark did not qualify for the play-offs and so missed out on this summer’s finals in Brazil. Their coach, Morten Olsen, has brought a mixed squad to London, with the Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen doubtful because of a back injury.Nevertheless, Agger feels the Danes can make a statement with a solid display at Wembley. “We obviously know that it is a strong team we have to play, but we have come here to win and we want to win,” he said.”This is a great experience for young Danish players to come to this beautiful stadium.”We have players who play in England, but all of the players here have grown up watching English football.”Agger is hoping for a chance to switch off from Liverpool’s title challenge for a few days.”I think as a footballer you have to look at the next game, and the next game is against England for Denmark, so I can put that away for a bit, and as soon as that game is finished, back to Liverpool,” he said.The striker Nicklas Bendtner is expected to feature at Wembley despite not being a regular at Arsenal. The 26-year-old was on the verge of leaving the Gunners in the summer, but had looked in good form before being sidelined by an ankle injury.Bendtner now appears behind fit-again Yaya Sanogo in the pecking order, but will continue to try to force his way back into Arsene Wenger’s plans.”If you can find a footballer who says he is happy to sit and watch and not play, then I think he needs to find a different job. I want to play, there is no doubt in my mind,” he said.”I am fit and ready, am training well. That I am not selected is up to the manager, it is not up to me.”All I can do is train well, which is what I am doing.”If the manager chooses differently, then that is up to him.”Both Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are hopeful of making it into Hodgson’s final 23-man squad for Brazil.Bendtner said: “How they have played recently, I would have thought so.”Alex has come back really strong since his knee injury and has scored a lot of important goals for us.”Arsenal slipped four points behind leaders Chelsea following defeat at Stoke.Bendtner, though, insists the Gunners are not about to throw in the towel.”It will be difficult, there are a lot of good teams, but I am sure we will be fighting to the end to win,” he said.LiverpoolEnglandDenmarkWorld CupFriendliestheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool’s English core can help Roy Hodgson

• Gerrard has thrived in holding midfielder• Rodgers proud of Liverpool’s English youngstersBrendan Rodgers has said Liverpool’s 5-1 mauling of Arsenal issued “a statement” about British talent and advised Roy Hodgson to capitalise on Steven Gerrard’s development as a holding midfielder at the World Cup.Liverpool had five English players in their ranks when obliterating the then Premier League leaders at Anfield – Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Jon Flanagan. Rodgers has backed Flanagan to follow his team-mates into the England ranks, though concedes Brazil may come too soon for the 21-year-old defender, and believes Saturday’s performance demonstrated Britain does produce players equipped for the highest level.”I think it is a good signal [the five players] and a good statement, especially for young British players, that if you come to Liverpool you will get your opportunity if your focus is right. You will get that opportunity to play,” said the Liverpool manager before Wednesday’s visit to Fulham.The match will go ahead after planned strikes on the London Underground, that Fulham claimed would impact on the number of stewards able to get to Craven Cottage, were suspended on Tuesday.Rodgers added: “It has been a life’s work for me. Since I started as a young coach, British players were told they were not technically good enough or not tactically good enough. I set out on a journey to prove that wasn’t the case. They can be. What we had was coaches in this country who maybe didn’t have the faith or the nerve to play how Europeans would play. It is the easiest thing in the world to get your goalkeeper to smash the ball as far as he can up the pitch, away from danger, and when you haven’t got the ball just drop back in. It is the easiest thing in the world to coach. You could get someone, with all due respect, who is working with kids on the park to do that.”As in Liverpool’s previous home game, the 4-0 Merseyside derby win over Everton, Gerrard produced a commanding display against Arsenal to reinforce Rodgers’ belief that his captain will flourish in a deeper role.And the Liverpool manager believes Hodgson should consider adopting the same tactic with England at the World Cup.”Everyone knows Steven’s qualities but I think it would be good for Roy to see him in that central pivot that we play,” said Rodgers. “We don’t play with two holders, we play with one and two more attacking players. Even in that role, he has amazed me at the quality he is playing at so quickly. When he was playing as the No10 or as that advanced player for Liverpool for many years, he was incredible. His movement in the box was like a striker. So to flip that into a playmaker in the other half of the field shows the real tactical intelligence that he has.”Flanagan has also impressed since returning to the Liverpool team this season and rendered Santi Cazorla anonymous throughout the 5-1 win. Rodgers is confident the youngster will soon increase the England contingent at Anfield. “I think this year might come too soon for him but there is absolutely no question he has got all the qualities to play in that position for England,” he said.”The key for Jon is consistency, making sure he doesn’t believe he has cracked it. I have been pleasantly surprised by how tactically good he is. Playing against someone like Cazorla, who jumps inside, we asked him to go with him at the right moments and he did. If he can do that for Liverpool in these types of games, then he can do it at international level, that’s for sure.”Brendan RodgersLiverpoolSteven GerrardEnglandRoy HodgsonWorld Cup 2014World CupAndy Huntertheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Liverpool’s Glen Johnson ruled out for ‘indefinite’ period with injury

• Defender has ankle and groin injuries, Brendan Rodgers said• Injuries will cause concern for England manager Roy HodgsonEngland have been dealt another World Cup injury scare after Glen Johnson was ruled out of Liverpool’s Champions League pursuit for an “indefinite” period by Brendan Rodgers.The Liverpool manager revealed the right-back needs to rest an ankle problem he has been carrying for some time, starting with the FA Cup fourth-round trip to Bournemouth on Saturday. But Johnson is also struggling with a groin injury that may require surgery in the buildup to the Brazil finals.No decision has been taken on whether the 29-year-old needs a groin operation, with Liverpool hoping an extended rest will ease Johnson’s various ailments, but the prospect will be a concern to the England manager Roy Hodgson, who has already lost Arsenal’s Theo Walcott from his World Cup plans due to a cruciate ligament injury.”Glen has played a lot of the season with injuries and really put himself out for the team, but unfortunately he is struggling with a number of injuries now,” said Rodgers. “It will be indefinite really, the timeline he will be out.”He’s had a real bad ankle for a period of time and just one or two other issues that haven’t allowed him to be 100%. I think everyone has seen over many years the speed, fluency and how good he’s been, but for part of this season he’s been restricted and that’s obviously been difficult for him. He has put himself out for the team, he has trained and played, but it is just at that point now where we need to get him right. There’s no timeline on it. We just need to assess it and we’ll take it from there.”Injuries have taken an inevitable toll on Johnson’s form in recent months but his absence represents a setback for Rodgers as he attempts to steer Liverpool back into the Champions League.Liverpool lost the influential Lucas Leiva for up to two months last Saturday with a knee ligament injury sustained against Aston Villa, Daniel Agger has also been sidelined with a calf problem and José Enrique is “weeks away” from returning to the problematic left-back position.Jon Flanagan, however, has returned to full training having recovered from a hamstring strain suffered before Christmas and should be fit for next Tuesday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.”I am disappointed for Lucas because he’s been very important for our squad this season,” the Liverpool manager added. “It was something that was innocuous really and has put him out for a few months. Hopefully he’ll get back sooner rather than later. He’d been in good form this season and had worked his way back into the Brazil squad. Knowing what he is like, he’ll be back sooner rather than later – and he’ll do everything in his power to get back. In the meantime, that leaves us short of a really good player.”Brendan RodgersLiverpoolEnglandWorld Cup 2014World CupAndy Huntertheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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GUARDIAN – Liverpool’s Lucas Leiva may be on sidelines for up to two months

• Brazil midfielder has damaged ligaments in his right knee • Coates to leave Liverpool and rejoin Nacional on loanThe Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva is expected to be on the sidelines for up to two months with a knee ligament injury.It is understood the Brazil midfielder has damaged the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.Although not as serious as an injury to a cruciate ligament – the 27-year-old ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in November 2011 – it will still keep the midfielder out for six to eight weeks, which would take him into March.Lucas sustained the injury just 20 minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa. He told manager Brendan Rodgers he heard “a click” in his right knee following a challenge with Fabian Delph and subsequently left the ground on crutches, later tweeting: “It is in GOD hands.”Lucas had been left out of the starting lineup as Rodgers opted to play captain Steven Gerrard in a holding role for the second successive match, allowing him to field a more attacking side with the returning striker Daniel Sturridge accommodated at the Brazilian’s expense.The experiment did not work and Rodgers corrected his mistake at half-time and Lucas’s arrival did allow the Reds to regain some control. With Liverpool looking to hold on to fourth place in the Premier League, Rodgers could be tempted to find additional cover in the transfer window as he has been short in the area of defensive midfielders for some time.He still sees Gerrard as being able to perform a role but most of his other midfield options – Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Luis Alberto – are all more offensively minded players.LiverpoolBrazilWorld Cup 2014World Cuptheguardian.com 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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