Kuyt has 'no intention' of leaving Liverpool
The Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt claims he has been reassured by his manager, Rafael Benitez, that he still has a future at the club.
Robbie Keane's arrival from Tottenham means that the Dutchman, who found himself playing for much of last season on the right side of midfield, is unlikely to be a regular starter in his favoured position even if the Spaniard reverts back to a two-man strike force this season.
Kuyt, who scored three goals in 32 appearances for the Anfield club last term, was recently linked with a move to German side Hamburg, but he remains desperate to stay on Merseyside and he insists Benitez is happy to grant him his wish. "I'm really happy at Liverpool and I want to stay here for as long as the club wants me," Kuyt said.
"I am really settled here and I like the city. The most important thing is I like the club and I've really enjoyed the two seasons I've been here. The only thing I am missing is some trophies and, hopefully, that will come in the next year.
"I've never had any intentions of leaving this club. Sometimes things are said in the press but the boss said to me that is not relevant and he wants me here with Liverpool."
The Liverpool defender Steve Finnan has been recalled to the Republic of Ireland squad for the friendly against Norway next wednesday, having previously announced his retirement from international football.
Finnan is among six players recalled by the Ireland manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, for the match in Oslo who did not take part in the May internationals against Serbia and Colombia. Trapattoni has praised Finnan for returning to the fold, but also confirmed that Bolton's Andy O'Brien would not be reversing his decision to quit playing for the Republic.
"I am happy that Steve Finnan has agreed to return to international football," Trapattoni said. "He is an experienced player and he still has a lot to give to the team. I respect Andy O'Brien's decision and I thank him for letting us know. Stephen Ireland has told us he is not yet ready to make himself available but has indicated that he may do so in the future. As I have said before, my door remains open."
Trapattoni is using the Norway game to prepare for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins next month. He said: "We will have several days together, which will be very important. We have a lot of work to do but I am looking forward to it."
Across the city, the Everton defender Joleon Lescott has described the loss through injury loss of Steven Pienaar from the club's opening Premier League matches as a "massive blow". Pienaar, effectively Everton's only signing of the summer when he turned a loan into a permanent move from Borussia Dortmund in May, broke a toe in last weekend's home friendly with PSV Eindhoven.
With Everton severely hit by injuries and a reduced squad size, Pienaar's absence until the end of next month will test their manager David Moyes' team selection to the limit.
England defender Lescott said: "Losing Steven is a massive blow. He has been one of our most influential players, during last season and especially this pre-season. It's a big disappointment not to have him. He was a massive part of our success last season and he has come back for pre-season looking just as sharp, if not sharper."
Moyes has been desperately trying to boost his squad numbers this week in the run-up to Saturday's home opener against Blackburn, but his targets Wagner Love, Alan Smith and Stephane M'Bia are all still long shots. Love will not be released by CSKA Moscow on loan, Kevin Keegan is trying to keep Smith at Newcastle while M'Bia is at the Olympics with Cameroon.
Everton will miss the injured trio Tony Hibbert, Tim Cahill and Andy van der Meyde on Saturday, while James Vaughan could be suspended by then, following his red card on the club's US tour. Victor Anichebe remains at the Olympics after Nigeria beat the US yesterday and so will not be able to rush back from China to play at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Moyes' problems have mounted during a summer during which Lee Carsley, Andrew Johnson, Thomas Gravesen, Manuel Fernandes and Stefan Wessels have all left the club – they are all yet to be replaced. All that means the youngsters Jose Baxter, Jack Rodwell and Dan Gosling will be in the squad on Saturday.
The South Africa coach, Joel Santana, has made space in his team for the Blackburn striker Benni McCarthy, despite his recent outburst against the national football association. The Brazilian coach intends to use the friendly fixture against Australia in London on Tuesday to introduce his youngsters to international football.
McCarthy criticised the South African Football Association's selection policy, claiming it was a question of which clubs players represented rather than pure football ability.
Republic of Ireland (v Norway, 20 August, Oslo): Given (Newcastle), Kiely (West Bromwich), Bruce (Ipswich), Delaney (QPR), Dunne (Manchester City), Finnan (Liverpool), Foley (Wolves), Kilbane (Wigan), J O'Brien (Bolton), O'Shea (Manchester United), Duff (Newcastle), Hunt (Reading), McGeady (Celtic), Miller (Sunderland), A Reid (Sunderland), S Reid (Blackburn), Whelan (Stoke), Doyle (Reading), Keane (Liverpool), Keogh (Wolves), Long (Reading), Murphy (Sunderland).