Hodgson: Poulsen not Mascherano's replacement
Poulsen was presented to the media today after signing a three-year contract following his £4.5million move from Juventus. The arrival of the Danish defensive midfielder was thought likely to prompt the departure of Mascherano - who has been linked with a reunion with former Reds boss Rafael Benitez at Inter Milan - but Hodgson said that was not the case.
Mascherano said this week he was not unhappy with the club, but wanted a new challenge in a different country but his manager stressed an exit was not imminent. That situation may change, however, once Inter striker Mario Balotelli has completed his move to Manchester City as the Italian club may then have the wherewithal to sign Mascherano.
"I don't want to let Javier Mascherano go. At the moment Javier has shown no signs of going," he said. "I work with him whenever I can. He came back fairly late from the World Cup and has been away on international duty but I suppose I've had seven or eight training sessions with him now.
"We talk about football and he has made no indication [about wanting a move] since our very early meeting when he made it clear where, if possible, he would prefer to leave. Since then he has been getting on with his work, training properly, and as far as I am concerned he is a Liverpool player and will be until the day someone signs him - and that day does not seem to be imminent."
Hodgson said the Argentina captain was in contention for Sunday's Premier League opener at home to Arsenal and could well start, considering Poulsen only arrived yesterday. The 62-year-old said the Denmark international would play an important part this season but stressed he did not want it to be at the expense of Mascherano.
"It is not a question of Christian replacing Javier, I believe Javier is going to play for us," added Hodgson. "We didn't take Christian to replace anyone, we took him in because we wanted to improve the size and quality of our squad. I am happy to have both players; we are going to have a lot of games to play this year, hopefully, and we are going to need a lot of players."
Hodgson admitted he had agreed with the 26-year-old that if the right club and offer came in they could cede to his request to leave, but they were still waiting for that to appear. "As far as Javier is concerned I can quite categorically state there has been no offer from any club for him," he added.
"As a result I don't see why every day I should put his loyalty or desire to the club in doubt. We made it clear to him that if the offer he wanted came along we probably would not stand in his way but that offer has not come along and he is working hard to play for Liverpool.
"He is a realistic player. He is playing for Liverpool and is not looking for a move to a Spanish second division team - there are very few clubs in the world that can even consider having Javier Mascherano on their books. If he wants to leave he will be expecting a club of a similar stature to Liverpool to come along and at the moment they haven't so I'm presuming he is very happy to stay here."
Hodgson is still optimistic of signing Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones, having had a £2million bid rejected last week. "I haven't spoken to (managing director) Christian Purslow today because he is in London with the rest of the board but I'm hoping that transfer will take place and the sooner the better," said the 62-year-old.
There was some good news for Hodgson, as striker Fernando Torres could be fit for Sunday after sustaining an adductor injury in Spain's FIFA World Cup™ final victory. "Fernando has made a remarkable effort to get himself fit and ready for Premier League football and he has a chance," said the Reds boss.
"He has worked extremely hard in the two and a half weeks he has been back so I certainly don't rule him out. His chances were being played down by the sports science people who said in an ideal world he would have a longer preparation period. They are rightly concerned if he plays too early he could have a recurrence of a knee problem which could keep him out for longer so it is quite simply a balancing job."