- Premier League
Skrtel 'trying hard' to keep spot in Liverpool team
Martin Skrtel has vowed to hang on to his Liverpool place and help them end a four-year absence from the Champions League.
The Slovakian centre-back has re-established himself as an Anfield regular after a difficult finish to last season, when he lost his place to Jamie Carragher and admitted that he was ready to consider leaving.
He then missed the start of this season with a knee injury, but regained a first-team spot in early September and is set to make his 10th successive Premier League start against neighbours Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.
He told the Liverpool Echo: "After last season, I worked very hard during pre-season to try to get back into the team.
"Then I picked up a knee injury towards the end of pre-season so it wasn't easy for me, but I tried to stay positive and I was saying to myself: 'Just wait for your chance.'
"I recovered well and got that chance against Manchester United [on September 1]. I felt it was an opportunity to prove to people and to the manager that I am able to play.
"Of course our strong start to the season helped too. As a player it's always better for you when you are going into a team which is doing well.
"Now I am just trying hard to keep myself in the team, and that's not easy with six centre-backs competing for two or three places."
Liverpool last played in the Champions League in December 2009, and Skrtel is eager to get back there.
The 28-year-old defender, signed for £6.5 million from Zenit St Petersburg in January 2008, is under contract at Anfield until 2016 wants to play a long-term part in the club's bid to return to top-level European competition.
He said: "All of us believe that this season we can stay towards the top positions and get back into Europe. To play in the Champions League is the dream for every player.
"We are working hard every single day to achieve that. I hope at the end of the season we will be happy.
"I have been here at Liverpool for six years and it's been a great six years for me. Playing for such an illustrious club like Liverpool for six years is something any footballer would be proud of.
"I will be 29 in December, I have a contract here for three more years and I am very happy. I will keep striving to do my best and see what that time brings."
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.