Hodgson bullish after triple boost

21 July 2010 06:47
Roy Hodgson believes Steven Gerrard's commitment to stay at Liverpool means he will start the season with a stronger squad than he inherited.

Signing midfielder Joe Cole on a free transfer after he was released by Chelsea was a real coup, but convincing Gerrard there was a successful future ahead at Anfield was even more vital.

And, having held positive face-to-face talks with striker Fernando Torres last week, even if Hodgson does lose the battle to keep hold of midfielder Javier Mascherano, he is upbeat about the new campaign.

"It will be a tough season with a lot of matches and the disappointment of last season (finishing seventh) is going to take a while to dissipate," said Hodgson. "But it is very good that our best player is still going to be playing at this club.

"It's a great piece of news and fingers crossed the speculation about Steven will go away.

"The club has made no secret and I have made no secret that I came to work with people like Steven Gerrard, not to see him disappear before I get the chance to work with him.

"It seems now with that commitment that this will happen. It gives everyone a boost without question.

"Hopefully with the signing of Joe Cole - and if we are lucky one or two others to boost the squad - we will be going into this season's competition maybe stronger on paper than we were last season."

Gerrard has been angered by suggestions he wanted to leave the club, with all the speculation coming from Spain with suggestions Jose Mourinho - who tried to sign the midfielder twice while Chelsea boss - was preparing a move.

And the 30-year-old, who captained England at the World Cup in South Africa, insisted his silence over the last six weeks was purely due to the fact he had other matters to focus on.

"I made it clear that I simply needed to concentrate on the World Cup and then have a decent holiday with my family," said the midfielder.

"I wanted the chance to meet Roy Hodgson privately and, having done so, I'm very impressed with his plans for the future.

"I've only returned to training yesterday at Melwood with some of the other World Cup players, but I can't wait for the new season to start.

"I know Joe well through the England set-up so it will be fantastic to play alongside him in a red shirt for Liverpool."

With Gerrard's public commitment following so soon after Cole's signing, next on the list of things to get done for Hodgson is to elicit a similar response from Torres.

"I met Torres last Wednesday in Ibiza, albeit briefly," said the manager. "He told me the groin problem (sustained in the World Cup final) was not anything to worry about, it was something which would clear up with rest on holiday.

"We are hoping he will come back fit and well."

The future of Mascherano remains less clear as Hodgson has been unable to contact the Argentina captain after the World Cup.

"I left him a message saying I did not expect him to call me back," he said. "The speculation about him leaving continues but, as yet, it is just that, speculation. We have heard nothing from Inter Milan."

Liverpool expect to complete the signing of 18-year-old Rangers centre-back Danny Wilson later today.

The Reds were trailing the teenager before Benitez's departure and have now finalised a deal, with £2million paid up front and the fee rising to £5million depending on appearances.

Source: Team_Talk