Belfast Telegraph

Ngog wants to prove himself at Liverpool

Liverpool striker David Ngog admits he is not a ready-made replacement for Fernando Torres but believes he can fill the void left by his injured team-mate.

The 20-year-old Frenchman has scored four goals in nine appearances - four of which have been starts, although two were in the Carling Cup - this season.

With Torres likely to be sidelined for three weeks with a hernia problem manager Rafael Benitez's options up front are limited.

A key component of Liverpool's attacking strategy is pace so Benitez prefers to play experienced international Dirk Kuyt in a wide right position or just behind the front man.

Fellow Holland international Ryan Babel has yet to prove he can consistently deliver goals from a central position while Ukraine forward Andriy Voronin is also not well suited to the lone striker's role.

That all points to Ngog being given an extended run in Torres' absence.

"Fernando is the best striker in the world, so any player would find it hard replacing him," said Ngog.

"All I can do is play my own game and try to be myself because few players can do the things Fernando does.

"I feel tactically I can play as a lone striker, behind the striker or with another partner, so I am desperate to prove to the manager that I am ready to play in any situation.

"I believe that I have enough quality to be a good striker for the club and score many goals but I understand that will come with time and experience.

"I am not 21 until next April so I have plenty of time to learn and I couldn't be learning from a better manager than Rafa Benitez or a better striker than Fernando."

Ngog has had plenty to learn this week after facing a barrage of criticism following his dive to win the penalty which earned Liverpool a 2-2 draw with Birmingham on Monday.

However, the £1.5million former Paris Saint Germain striker has shrugged off the controversy and is keen to focus on the challenges facing the team, who have already lost five Barclays Premier League matches this season.

"We need to remain confident in our own ability as individuals, as well as a team, because not much has changed from last season when we weren't far away from winning the league," said the France Under-21 international. "The team is still very strong and we have to believe in ourselves.

"I know that Liverpool demands success and needs to win trophies, so losing games like we have isn't acceptable."

The side have been badly hit by injuries as, in addition to Torres, captain Steven Gerrard (groin), Glen Johnson, Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun (all hamstring), defender Daniel Agger (back) and Fabio Aurelio all have problems.

One bright spot has been the return to fitness of £20million midfielder Alberto Aquilani, the man bought from Roma to replace Xabi Alonso after his departure to Real Madrid.

Former Liverpool player and manager Kenny Dalglish, now overseeing the club's academy, believes the Italian will prove to be a great signing.

"To me he looks a very good footballer who has good vision and is capable of seeing a pass," he told LFC Weekly.

"Because of our current injury situation it would have been easy to rush him back into action.

"But that wouldn't have been fair to the player and he could have ended up missing even more time.

"Instead he's had the rehabilitation he's needed and he should be a great acquisition."

Belfast Telegraph


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