at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Dublin – The Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, has flatly rejected suggestions he is looking to sell goalkeeper Pepe Reina and placed his faith in the Spain international to regain his best form.
Reports claimed Rodgers was planning a January move for Birmingham City's England goalkeeper Jack Butland or young German prospect Ron-Robert Zieler. However, Rodgers denied that was the case and, in breaking with policy and not commenting on speculation, he stressed goalkeeper was not a position he was looking at strengthening next month.
“I don't like to talk about speculation as I've know in my time at Liverpool the names we have been linked with has been incredible,” he said. “But what is worth putting on record is that I'm not looking for another goalkeeper.
“We have been linked with lots of goalkeepers. I have two very good goalkeepers – Pepe Reina and Brad Jones, who is a very loyal and capable No 2. Any areas we look to improve will be in other areas.”
Reina has had a poor last couple of seasons and, when he was ruled out for a month with a hamstring injury in October, Jones' performances led to questions about whether the Spaniard would regain his place. He duly did when fit and Rodgers expects him to occupy the first-choice position for several years to come.
“Pepe Reina is clearly our No 1 goalkeeper, one of the best goalkeepers in the league,” Rodgers added.
“He had a difficult couple of years but for me his best years are ahead of him and his commitment to the cause and what we are trying to achieve is 150 per cent.
“He has done a lot of work to get in the best possible state he can be in physically and mentally and I am so happy with him. I can see him starting to get back to the level he set here, which was a really high standard, and hopefully that continues.”
Reina is expected to start in Liverpool's crucial final Europa League Group A match against already-eliminated Udinese at the Stadio Friuli tonight.
Defeat would mean they fail to make the last 32 but a positive result - providing they at least match Young Boys' display at home to Anzhi Makhachkala, who have already booked their place in the knockout stage - would be enough to send them through. – The Independent