Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan is close to nearing a first team return, and insists he is ready to fight for his first team place against the likes of summer signings Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno.
The homegrown defender was one of the stars of last season as the Reds came agonisingly close to a first Premier League title, although injury has meant he is yet to kick a ball for Brendan Rodgers side this term.
And with his contract expiring at the end of the current season, Flanagan is eager to win his place back quickly and produce the kind of form that made him a fans favourite last season.
“I know I need to consistently do well if I’m to get in the team and then stay there…I want to keep developing as a footballer. That’s why not being available has been so frustrating,” he admitted.
“Then I saw that we signed two full-backs, I immediately thought, ‘I need to up my game now’. But competition for places doesn’t bother me. I’m always up for the fight.”
Flanagan admits it has not been easy losing his place to injury having worked so hard to break into the first team, but the 22-year-old has no qualms about doing it all again.
“I’ve been out for what has felt like a really long time. It’s been very frustrating, and that’s one of the downsides of football that people don’t see,” he said.
“You’re out of routine because you are used to training and playing, being around the squad and having a laugh on a daily basis.
“Once you are injured, your schedule changes completely. You have to rest on different days and work on other areas – it’s not nice but it has to be done and will be worth all the effort in the end.
“I’ve got in the team before and kept my place. Now I need to do that again.”