SEBASTIAN COATES admits he still has plenty to learn about English football as he targets a regular spot in Liverpool's starting 11.
The Uruguayan defender has been eased into the fold since arriving at Anfield from Nacional back in August, and has thus far managed just 11 appearances for the Reds.
But having scored his first goal for the club, spectacularly, in the 3-2 defeat at Queens Park Rangers last month, and with question marks forming around a defence which has conceded seven goals in their last three league games, Coates is edging ever closer to Kenny Dalglish's first-team plans.
The 21-year-old says he has settled in well on Merseyside so far, but revealed he was still adapting to the pace and physicality of Premier League football.
“I'm hoping to keep adapting to English football and the Premier League,” Coates said.
“The football is quicker here than in Uruguay, and it's stronger and more aggressive. That's something I'm going to have to keep working towards and adapting my game to.
“I think it's gone well so far. Obviously I would like some more opportunities to play, but I am also conscious of the fact I have to be patient and wait for those opportunities to come my way.”
Coates, of course, faces stiff competition to secure that coveted first-team spot. The current central defensive pairing of Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel are well established, while Daniel Agger's imminent return from a cracked rib will present a further obstacle.
Not that Coates is too concerned; he insists he is happy to learn from his more senior colleagues.
“I've learned a lot from Jamie, Martin and Daniel,” he said “They are different players with different characteristics, but I have picked things up from all of them and I will continue to try and do that.
He added: “The goal (now) for the team is to win as many matches as we can. My personal goal is to try and adapt even more to the English game so next season I can play more.”
At 6ft 5in, Coates was always likely to make an impression on the Premier League. His goal at Loftus Road, volleyed acrobatically past Paddy Kenny, ensured he did just that.
“It was a beautiful goal,” said Coates. “But the unfortunate thing was we did not win the game.
“It was a good goal and I'd never scored one in that way before. I scored goals in Uruguay, but never like that!
“I hope I can repeat it again one day - but I hope if I do, we win the match as well.
“I don't necessarily practice my attacking in training. I think it's down to whether you're in the opponent's area, or not.
“Martin (Skrtel) has scored a few goals (four) this season, and I think it's about being in the right place.”