Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno has pleged to get through his difficult start to the season after falling out of favour with manager Brendan Rodgers.
Since being hauled off at half-time of the 6-1 defeat at Stoke on the final day of last season the Spaniard, a £12million signing from Sevilla just over 12 months ago, has made just two starts – one of which he was substituted in – and one appearance off the bench in five pre-season friendlies.
He has been overtaken in the pecking order at left-back by Joe Gomez, a new arrival from Charlton, despite the 18-year-old favouring the centre or right of the defence.
Moreno admits he found his first year difficult to adapt but hopes to be able to win back his place in the side. “I realised what a great club this is right away,” he told Marca.
“The first year was difficult because of the language issue and moving away from home but I made 41 appearances, which is pretty good for my age and a club of Liverpool’s stature.
“I’d like to be a regular in the starting line up, to play as many games as possible.”
While Moreno is out of favour with Rodgers that is nothing compared to Mario Balotelli, who has not even featured in any squad since the defeat to relegated Hull at the end of April and was left behind for the club’s tour of Asia and Australia.
The Italy international has been criticised for his attitude and his performances since his £16million move from AC Milan almost a year ago but Moreno has some sympathy for the striker, who turned 25 on Wednesday.
“I think he’s unfairly maligned,” the defender added. “He’s a very relaxed guy. He never bothers anyone. He could be a great striker. He’s got the tools.
“Things haven’t gone well for him here. He’s really struggled to score goals. ‘This had never happened to me before,’ he told me.”
A year could not have made more of a difference for Adam Lallana, however, as he looks to make the most of a full pre-season.
The England international sustained a knee injury shortly after his move from Southampton last summer and that delayed his debut until mid-September but he continued to struggle with niggling injuries, partly due to him missing some of pre-season.
But the 27-year-old feels totally different this year. “I am in great shape at the minute. I have not missed a training session or a game to date and I feel I’ve massively benefited for that,” he told LFCTV GO.
“Any professional will tell you being on the treatment bed is not any good for you as when you are away from the group it is not easy to integrate.
“I want to have a good season and do well and add more goals to my game and I feel if I stay fit and out on the pitch then that is what I’ll get.
“I’ve set myself personal targets and I will just be looking to contribute as much as I can towards the team.
“It could be a 60-game season and I feel we have a great squad. The competition for places keeps everyone on their toes and no-one should be guaranteed a place in the team.”