Brendan Rodgers Says Martin Kelly Can Be Better ‘Physically and Mentally’ After Returning From Injury


Martin KellyBrendan Rodgers has been a keen admirer of Martin Kelly‘s talents for some time — and the boss admits he even tried to sign the youngster on a loan deal during his time at Swansea.

Kelly has been sidelined since September 2012 after sustaining an ACL rupture of his right knee in the Anfield clash against Manchester United.

However, his importance to the Liverpool squad was underlined when the flexible fullback put pen to paper on a new long-term contract in February.

Today Rodgers emphasized how the 22-year-old’s ability to operate in both the fullback and center-back role can benefit the club going forward.

“I knew Martin when he was growing up and I’ve seen him develop both as a right-back and at center-back,” Rodgers told reporters gathered at Melwood. “I actually tried to take him to Swansea on loan.

“He’s a player that gives 150 per cent in each game. He started the season in the side and I thought he did really well.

“He’s working very hard on and off the field at the moment and we’re working so that he comes back physically and mentally a better player. Once he gets back, we can look at an individual plan for him.

“But I think the most important thing for Martin, and it’s similar to what we’ve done with Steven [Gerrard] this year, is that we make sure he’s going to be available. You can be as good a player as you want but if you’re not available and you can’t get a run of games consistently, then it’s difficult for you.

“He has shown he is a talent and has shown that he can play at center-half and at fullback — hence the reason why we gave him a new contract. But what we have got to do is get him out on the training field. And we have to get him on the pitch as often as we possibly can and then I think that you’ll see he can be a quality player.”

With six games to go in this year’s Barclays Premier League season, Rodgers insists there is still plenty to fight for.

And he believes that by adding to the squad during the summer, his side can make a better start to next year’s campaign — and push on from there.

“We are a group that didn’t make a very good start and that probably cost us the chance to arrive in [the top four],” said the 40-year-old. “We’ll keep fighting and keep working to finish as high as we can.

“For us to go to the next level, we know we need to add more quality to the group, but I genuinely think that next season we’ll have a much better chance because we’ll be in a better starting position.

“We’ll add quality to the group in the summer and that will give us a real chance of achieving next year.”

The boss was questioned as to whether he felt the Premier League’s leading goalscorer, Luis Suarez, had shown signs of fatigue during the Reds’ 0-0 draw against West Ham on Sunday.

“I don’t think so,” was his response. “What Luis showed last weekend was that he was human. The level of his consistency this year has been incredible.

“I thought last weekend West Ham defended very well and we couldn’t find the solutions to break them down.

“Luis might not have been at his very best but he certainly gave a seven out of 10 performance because of his work-rate and his intensity. From time to time he’ll have games like that, but that just shows you the level that he’s reached. He’s been brilliant and he’s just got that type of mindset where he wants to play every game.”

Reading confirmed yesterday that they will hold a minute’s silence in memory of the 96 supporters who lost their lives at Hillsborough before Saturday’s game at the Madejski Stadium.

“We’re into a stage of remembrance here for 96 people who died going to a football game and for the families who have suffered for many, many years,” Rodgers said. “It will give the Reading supporters an opportunity to show their respects to the families. We’ve seen it at so many of the grounds since the families were justified in their campaign [after the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report was released in September 2012].

“Lots of clubs around the country have shown us great support as we have traveled and this will be Reading’s opportunity to show their support for the families and the 96 supporters who are no longer here.”

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