• Europa League

Enrique in contention for return against Stoke

ESPN staff
October 3, 2012

Brendan Rodgers has confirmed he can call upon Joe Cole for Liverpool's Europa League clash with Udinese, and Jose Enrique is also close to a return from a knee problem.

Enrique has had his focus and dedication questioned by Rodgers, who has tended to fill the left-back role with Glen Johnson in the early stages of the campaign.

However, Enrique revealed on Tuesday that a mystery knee issue has been preventing him giving 100 per cent, and he vowed to fight for his place when he returns. That comeback, according to Rodgers, is close.

"There's nothing new from the weekend," Rodgers said during Wednesday's pre-match press conference. "Jose Enrique is back out on the pitches running. Apart from that, everyone is good and the condition of the team is good. We'll look forward to tomorrow night.

"I'll assess that [Enrique's injury] nearer the weekend [to see if he can be involved]."

Liverpool first face Udinese at Anfield on Thursday, before Stoke head to Merseyside on Sunday. With games coming thick and fast Rodgers will be boosted by the option of Cole, who is back from a hamstring problem.

"His attitude is superb and Joe really thinks he can contribute to the group, which is great," Rodgers said. "He's been unfortunate. He's been out and came back a couple of times, but didn't quite really get through fitness wise.

"He was out for eight weeks, trained for a couple of weeks, had his first game, scored a good goal [for the U21s] and now he is fit. He's back into training now and looking to fight for a place in the squad.

"He loves his football, Joe, and he's now fit enough to fight for his position in the group."

Rodgers also paid tribute to Daniel Agger after the centre-back revealed he is playing through the pain barrier with a knee injury. For the Liverpool boss, Agger's attitude sums up his squad.

"He didn't train all last week - he's got a little bit of pain in there," Rodgers said. "He played in the game down at Norwich and did very, very well. He's recovered well now and it's just a management process with Daniel.

"I came into the club and looked closely at his injury record. He's a player who needs managing. He's a good guy and has worked well this week and will be available for the next couple of games.

"He's a real warrior. I am very fortunate here that I have got a group that has that real warrior mentality and he is one of those guys."

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