Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Skrtel braced for physical battle

Martin Skrtel is prepared for a physical test against Stoke

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is gearing himself up for the physical test which comes with a trip to Stoke.

The Potters' tactics are not universally accepted by everyone in the Barclays Premier League and the Reds centre-back feels they sometimes take things too far.

"The game against Stoke is not about the football it is about the fight and the tackles," said the Slovakia international. "The fighting in the box at throws, corners and free-kicks was always part of the game but it can be too much."

He added: "What they do is sometimes too much but they are doing well this season, keeping clean sheets.

"We have to deal with it and that is the key for us as defenders, to fight against them and then our creative players can play our game and try to score goals.

"It is always difficult to play against them, especially away from home but we know if we play our game it can be good. We will just try to beat them and get the three points because that is very important for us.

"I hope and believe we can score goals and win there. With three games in a few days that will be key."

Winger Stewart Downing hopes being given Christmas Day off will be just the boost the players need ahead of the trip to the Britannia Stadium.

Unlike many clubs manager Brendan Rodgers did not call his players in for training yesterday. Downing said it was now up to the players to prove it was the right decision.

"I've had it before at Aston Villa and we won on Boxing Day and that worked," he said. "It is man-management. He has to trust his players. We know what's right and what's wrong and you have to be ready to play."

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