Belfast Telegraph

Cole back Reds to challenge City

Joe Cole has warned Manchester City that Liverpool are ready for them - even though he will not be facing the big-spending title pretenders next week.

Cole must sit out the intriguing clash at Eastlands on Monday as he begins a three-match domestic ban for his sending off in last Sunday's season-opening draw against Arsenal. But the mood at Anfield has been upbeat since the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager in July and Cole expects the Reds to test City.

The 28-year-old playmaker said: "We are ready, we are getting stronger. It's been a disjointed pre-season but we are getting fitter and fitter and he players are looking better every day."

He added: "We are going there full of confidence after holding Arsenal to a draw."

Cole's arrival on a free transfer from Chelsea has been one of the reasons for the fresh wave of optimism at Liverpool along with pledges of allegiance from Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

The England international has had an indifferent start to his career on Merseyside, however, after his weekend red card was followed by a penalty miss in Europe on Thursday night.

Cole shot tamely from 12 yards in the second half as Liverpool failed to build on a slender 1-0 advantage in the first leg of their Europa League play-off against Trabzonspor at Anfield.

"It was a poor penalty," said Cole. "I haven't taken one for about 15 years and I think it might be about another 15 years before I take the next one.

"But you move on and the main thing was the team won."

Cole at least had the satisfaction of creating the only goal of the night for Ryan Babel and he will be able to play in Turkey next week as Liverpool look to secure a place in the group stages.

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