Liverpool FC News: CONFIDENT Glen Johnson is targeting a top four finish with Liverpool this season after the full-back celebrated another England call-up.
The Anfield star believes the arrival of manager Roy Hodgson and new signings such as Joe Cole have brought renewed optimism ahead of the new Premier League campaign.
Johnson also hailed the decision by striker Fernando Torres to commit his future to the club and is now relishing the opening fixture when the Reds host Arsenal on Sunday.
The former Chelsea and West Ham United player, selected in the 20-man squad by England manager Fabio Capello to play against Hungary on Wednesday night at Wembley, believes his club have issued a statement of intent with their summer work off the field.
Steven Gerrard is the other Reds player to receive the nod from the national side with new Liverpool star Cole omitted from the Capello team which flopped in South Africa.
“I was always hoping Fernando would stay,” said Johnson.
“Liverpool stayed strong and we have kept our best players. That’s a statement in itself.
“I’ve known Coley for years and it’s nice to have another Cockney voice around the place. He opens defences and I think he will be a great player for Liverpool.
“It definitely feels like a new start. We are hoping it will be better this year - everybody wants to get back into the top four. Fourth is the benchmark.”
“Roy is putting his thoughts to the team and knows what he wants.
“He concentrates on the organisation and how we defend.”
Jamie Carragher is the other Liverpool player from the World Cup not to feature in the England squad for Wednesday night after he announced his international retirement upon England’s exit at the hands of Germany.
Philipp Degen has finalised his season-long loan move to Stuttgart – as Liverpool are linked with bringing Peter Crouch back to the club.
The Swiss full-back joined the Anfield outfit in the summer of 2007 but failed to hold down a regular place in former manager Rafael Benitez’s team.
Signed on a free transfer, international Degen has featured just 13 times for Liverpool's first team since his arrival so moves to Germany in search of games with the Bundasliga outfit.
Degen said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge and the wonderful VfB fans.
“I really want to make use of my chance. It's fantastic to be working together with Christian Gross again. I had a very successful time with him in Basel.”
VfB Stuttgart boss Gross added: “I know Philipp very well and rate him highly both as a football player and as a person.
“He is a very athletic and fast player, who often looks to push forward. Philipp wants to take his chance at VfB.”
Meanwhile, rumours of Crouch’s return to Merseyside have gathered pace over the weekend with talks of manager Roy Hodgson being ready to table a bid for the England player.
Hodgson has signalled his intent to provide support for Fernando Torres however with a limited transfer budget, Liverpool are reported to be hopeful of securing Crouch for less than the £9m club Tottenham Hotspur paid 12 months ago.