Emre Can, Liverpool’s utility man last season, is determined to nail down a place in midfield for the coming campaign.
The Germany U21 struggled to break into the side following his £10m arrival from Bayer Leverkusen after injury sidelined him for six weeks early on He played just nine times before the St Stephen’s Day match at Burnley, which proved a turning point in his season as he came on at half-time for Kolo Toure to play as a third centre-back.
Although he had played in defence in Germany he was bought primary as a midfielder but he remained there for the rest of the season, although the switch to a flat four exposed the youngster’s unsuitability as a full-back.
During this summer’s U21 European Championships Can reverted to a central midfield role for his country and he hopes he can stay there for his club, with his chances boosted by the departure of Steven Gerrard to LA Galaxy.
“The most important thing is I feature in the games for Liverpool – that’s my number one intention,” he said.
“A midfield role is preferable; of course it is the manager who decides who plays where. We’ll see where he choses to play me this season. It is up to the manager but my preference is midfield.”
Can is still catching up on his pre-season work after a delayed return to training following his involvement with Germany and he has not been included in the 16-man party which flew to Finland to face Helsinki today.
Five of the Reds’ summer arrivals – Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Ings, Divock Origi, James Milner and Joe Gomez – have all travelled.
The two most expensive recruits Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino, at £32.5m and £29m, respectively, the club’s second and third most costly signings, have been left behind as they are also some way behind in their preparations – the former because he was only signed a fortnight ago and the latter because he returned late from Copa America duty with Brazil.
A decision has not yet been made whether to give them a run out in another friendly at Swindon tomorrow.
Other first-team members not been included for the game against HJK Helsinki include goalkeeper Adam Bogdan defenders Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Kolo Toure, midfielders Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Lazar Markovic.
Striker Rickie Lambert is having a medical at West Brom after a fee, understood to be just under £3m, was agreed but the likes of strike duo Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini and full-back Jose Enrique have been frozen out of Rodgers’ plans altogether as the Reds boss looks to move on the unwanted players.
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