Liverpool's Joe Allen ready for another midfield battle royale
Allen is in Malaysia with the Liverpool squad for Friday night’s friendly against a Malaysian XI at Bukit Jalil Stadium, where more than 50,000 fans are tipped to turn out. It is an ideal chance for Allen to push his claims for a regular place in the Reds’ engine room.
The 25-year-old has endured a stop-start Liverpool career ever since he followed manager Brendan Rodgers from Swansea to Anfield ahead of the 2012-13 season. He started well, earning Liverpool’s player of the month award for August, before a loss of form and then a shoulder injury took the gloss off his debut season.
Since then he has shown patches of his best, but regular injuries have stymied his progress, with the 25-year-old typically then taking time to get back to peak form.
Rodgers has been busy during the break adding six new faces, including England international James Milner and Brazilian attacking threat Roberto Firmino.
New captain Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho are certain starters when fit, while Lucas Leiva adds defensive stability and Emre Can is tipped to spend more time in the middle after playing the majority of last season as a makeshift defender.
It is likely to leave Allen once again fighting for his opportunities, but he told FourFourTwo he’s up for the challenge once more.
“I think it's hard every year,” he said. “We've added quality again this summer and there will be competition for places as usual. But at a club like Liverpool, you need that if you want to get any sort of success.
“It's all about the team, day in day out, giving my absolute best. Hopefully I can get my level of performance up and take the team to where we want to go.”
One thing in Allen’s favour, Rodgers is an unabashed admirer and has demonstrated in the past he is willing to turn to the Welshman and give him chances to hold down his place.
The Reds are coming off a disappointing sixth-place finish last season and Allen says the target in 2015-16 is obvious.
“We have internal targets, but the obvious ones are like most years, we want to be in that top four,” he said. “We want to try to get champions league football once again.”
Liverpool commence their new season with a trip to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke City on August 9.