By Vasek Kadlec
Martin Skrtel insists he is more than happy with Liverpool, but admits his current situation is not ‘ideal’.
For the first time in his Anfield career, the Slovak has found himself relegated to the bench under Brendan Rodgers in recent weeks.
Skrtel is currently sidelined with a thigh injury, but he does not appear confident of regaining his place.
“I have to wait, what else can I do?” he told Denik Sport.
“When I was healthy, I was training with the team, giving 100 per cent and doing all I could to prove to the coach that I belonged in the starting XI. I was waiting for a chance, one then came in St Petersburg, but then I was not playing again. However, now I’m injured and we’ll see what happens when I’m back fit.
“It’s hard to tell, but I would say it wouldn’t (change). The coach has his ideas about the line-up and the question is if I would be in it if I was fit. I would say it’s likelier I wouldn’t. The most important thing for me is to recover as soon as possible and resume training.”
Despite signing a new long-term deal late last year, Skrtel has been linked with a move, including possibly back to Russia with former club Zenit St Petersburg and Anzhi Makhachkala reported as admirers.
“It would be useless to think about a transfer during the season even if it is true that you can move to Russia till the end of February,” he said.
“I have come across such views that it would not be correct to consider leaving a club where you have been on the bench in four or five fixtures. On the other hand, it is hard to put up with it. For three years at Liverpool I was playing in almost every match and even in the national team I have played a lot of games. I have had various thoughts but certainly I’m not going to make any hot-blooded decision.
“I repeat this – I want to be fit as soon as possible and fight for the place in the starting line-up.
“If the coach should lose interest in keeping me in his team, then we would have to handle it with my agent. For the present it is valid that I am at Liverpool where I have a long-term contract and I am not thinking about leaving.”
Skrtel’s issues with Rodgers first came to light after their defeat to Manchester United earlier this season.
“It all happened after our match with Manchester United in the middle of January. Before that match we had won twice 3-0 in the league – at QPR and at home we beat Sunderland,” he said.
“In Manchester we lost 2-1 but I think that particularly in the second half we played very well. Moreover, a lot of sources gave me a good rating. But he [Rodgers] told me we had lost the organisation of play in the defensive line and that this would be the reason why I would not play in the following matches.
“I don’t know which fixtures he spoke about because we had kept a clean sheet twice in a row and won both matches. Also, we did not disappoint in the game against United.
“He [Rodgers] selects the line-up and picks players who will be on the pitch. At the moment I’m not among the first 11. It makes me sad but the coach has decided like this and I have to respect it.”
Asked if Rodgers and he had talked about his axing from the side, he said: “Yes, we have but it is not ideal. He told me something on this, gave me some explanation, but it’s hard to tell if it was the true reason he gave me.
“I don’t think it was and think there is something else behind it.
“Anyway, I’m not the type of player who would be chasing the coach and be in his office all the time, asking for explanations why I’m not playing. I have never done this, I’m not doing it now and I never will be. If the coach wants to tell me something, he will summon me.
“I would not like to make any unnecessary conflicts because the thing that is above all is success for Liverpool as a club and I will support them even if I’m on the bench or in the stands.”