MARTIN KELLY is relishing the prospect of fighting for a place in the Liverpool side when he returns to action later this season.
The 22-year-old, who penned a new long-term contract earlier this month, is continuing his rehabilitation programme following surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament he ruptured against Manchester United back in September.
Kelly was recently given the green light to start jogging again at Melwood. A comeback remains some way off for the talented England international, but the hope is that in April he could be available for selection.
In his absence, Kelly has seen fellow Academy graduate Andre Wisdom promoted to the first team squad to compete with the likes of Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique for the full-back spots.
However, the Whiston-born defender is ready for a battle to force his way back into boss Brendan Rodgers’ plans.
“It’s always good at any club to have competition for places,” Kelly said.
“Whether you are looking to take someone’s place, or you are looking behind at someone who is pushing for yours, it’s always a great thing to have. It helps you progress as a player.
“At Liverpool, the competition is at its highest because it is a top club.
“But I can learn from everyone in the team, not just the defenders.”
Kelly has made most of his 54 Liverpool appearances at right-back but coming through the youth ranks he was a centre-half.
In the long-term he’s expected to return to a central defensive role and the retirement of Jamie Carragher this summer could provide an opportunity for him to slot in.
Kelly admits he has benefited hugely from working with the vice-captain since he graduated to Melwood in the summer of 2007.
“Once I’m fit, if I just keep working and stay injury free, my game can progress really well and I can be dangerous as a full-back and a centre-back,” Kelly added.
“Carra has been fantastic for the club and for me personally as a player.
“Pretty much every time I have played he has been there alongside me. He has helped me through each game.
“I’ll be really sad when he goes because there is so much more there for me to learn from Jamie.
“I’m sure he’ll be around the club anyway, so he’ll always be able to offer that experience. But he is a great player, a great person and I’ll be very sad to see him retire.”
Meanwhile, Reds striker Fabio Borini has undergone surgery on the shoulder he dislocated in last weekend’s 5-0 thrashing of Swansea City.
The Italian, who is expected to be out for six to eight weeks, tweeted: “All went well.”