• Premier League

Reina back in No. 1 contention at Anfield

ESPN staff
November 15, 2012
Pepe Reina could return to action on Saturday © Getty Images

Pepe Reina is on course to make his Liverpool return on Saturday after giving up a spot in the Spain squad to focus on fighting for his place at Anfield.

Reina, 30, has missed Liverpool's previous seven matches with a hamstring problem suffered on international duty last month, but is set to be fit for the Premier League home game against Wigan.

The goalkeeper excused himself from consideration for Spain's 5-1 friendly win in Panama on Wednesday to train on Merseyside.

And he is hoping that will be enough to convince manager Brendan Rodgers to select him on Saturday ahead of Brad Jones, who has played in all of Liverpool's last seven games.

Rodgers indicated that Reina was close to being selected in last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Chelsea, but the manager decided to stick with Jones for that game.

"Pepe's been back in training," the Liverpool manager said. "He was very close last weekend.

"He made a great commitment to show that he's fighting for his place here. He was called into the Spain squad, but he stayed here to ensure that he was fit and strong, and he's been training all week. So he'll be available for the weekend."

Rodgers acknowledged that the form of Jones, given his longest run in the side since arriving from Middlesbrough in 2010, has made choosing a goalkeeper for Saturday difficult.

"Listen, Brad's been terrific. I've said before, and I'll repeat again, Pepe Reina's our number one goalkeeper," Rodgers said.

"He's been an outstanding goalkeeper for this football club. I know from speaking to him that he's very committed and very determined to continue at a very high level for the next nine or 10 years.

"Pepe's 30 years of age, and he's really committed to his work here, and to playing for Liverpool. He's been a model professional since I've been here. I talk regularly with him to try to improve his game and help him get back to the level that he wants to get to.

"It's good to have two good goalkeepers. Brad has stepped in and done brilliantly. I've got to say that he's been excellent. So now I have a choice to make for the weekend."

Rodgers also revealed that midfielder Lucas Leiva is close to being fit again after a forgettable 12 months riddled with injury problems.

The Brazil international fought back from a cruciate knee ligament injury suffered in the League Cup against Chelsea last December, only to tear a thigh muscle against Manchester City in August.

"Lucas Leiva is coming back into training, which is good news," Rodgers said. "He's worked tirelessly in his rehabilitation, so he comes back out on to the training field. He won't be ready to play for the weekend, but certainly in the next couple of weeks, he'll be very close."

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