Liverpool full back Steve Finnan, who has struggled with niggling injuries this season, has announced his retirement from international football. He has made 50 appearances for the Republic of Ireland but said he feels now the time is right to: “I’ll be 34 when the next tournament comes around so it’s the right time for me to step down.”
Former Red Jari Litmanen is on trial with his former national team coach, Roy Hodgson, at Fulham with a view to a permanent move back to the Premiership. The Finnish legend played just 26 times under Gerard Houllier from 2001-02, despite impressing when he was used. Houllier hailed him as “one of the most exciting signings Liverpool have ever made” but then went on to rarely use him before he moved on to Ajax. He turns 37 next month but it would be nice to see him return to England.
Elsewhere, Kevin Keegan is said to be interested in signing Peter Crouch and Harry Redknapp has admitted he would love to have him at Fratton Park: “I like Crouchie and I would take him any day of the week but I just don’t know whether Liverpool would be willing to sell him. He did a great job for me when he was at Portsmouth before and he is also a very nice lad.”
Rafa Benitez and the player himself have both denied Crouch will be leaving the club, and last night Benitez also said there will be no more new arrivals in this transfer window after the arrival of Martin Skrtel who made his debut in the Villa match and impressed with his distribution and no-nonsense attitude. Skrtel is likely to make his full debut against Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup on Saturday.
Meanwhile, want-away midfielder Momo Sissoko missed out in Mali’s 1-0 win over Benin in the African Nations Cup on Monday night.
And finally, no news article thesedays could ever be without more investment talk; the latest reports suggest Hicks and Gillett are struggling to finalise their loan with the banks. The Echo tonight reports:
City sources said today that the proposed Â£350m deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland could collapse, and DIC is waiting in the wings to make a move for the club should that happen.
Tom Hicks says the deal is on course, but speculation is growing about George Gillett’s ability to secure the loan.
The source said: “There is no doubt that Hicks is ready to put up the money that the RBS has asked for. But the situation may not be the same with Gillett.”
Last night Steven Gerrard claimed the off field problems are affecting the players:
“I have to be careful what I say about the situation, but it’s not helping.
“As players we know what’s going on. We have a job to do on the pitch and you try to push what’s happening off it to the back of your minds.
“But it’s almost impossible when it’s happening every day. It’s not just this week. It’s been going on for some time, and it’s certainly not helping the players.”