Degen keen to prove worth
Liverpool's pre-season may not have produced a win yet and been unsettled by constant transfer speculation over several players, but for Philipp Degen things could not have gone better. Reds manager Rafa Benitez has the futures of Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano, Alvaro Arbeloa and Andrea Dossena to sort out, and all four could still leave the club.
In particular, Real Madrid are closing in on deals to land Alonso and Arbeloa. Benitez has played down all the transfer speculation, but on the playing side of things, he will be pleased with Degen's comeback from injury that has shown why he was signed on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund a year ago.
The Switzerland defender is expected to get another run-out in the national stadium against Singapore on Sunday, when Liverpool complete their Far East tour. "Last season was a very sad one for me," Degen said.
"But I have worked hard during the holidays and now I feel really good. I am not yet at 100 per cent match fitness but I am feeling better every day. It is a new season and a new start for me.
"I have never had a season like last season before when I was injured all the time. I came to a new club wanting to show what I could do but it was not possible.
"I was injured, injured, injured and I know the fans were thinking I am that sort of player, but it isn't true. I want to fight to prove myself now and that is why I am looking forward to this year so much."
Benitez has splashed out £17m to land Glen Johnson from Portsmouth - more competition for Degen at right-back - and the 26-year-old Swiss is well aware of the fight he has on his hands to win a place in the Anfield backline.
"That is life at a big club like Liverpool," he said. "I will do all I can to show what I can do. That's the most important thing for me."