Liverpool FC News: JOE COLE is confident Liverpool will be ready for the start of the Premier League season despite tasting defeat on his debut for the club.
Cole played 65 minutes as Roy Hodgson’s side continued their testing pre-season programme with a 1-0 defeat against Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany yesterday.
It was the 28-year-old’s first appearance in a red shirt since his arrival on a free transfer last month having been released by Chelsea.
Although Cole was joined by returning England colleagues Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson, the quartet were understandably rusty as Liverpool produced another unconvincing attacking performance.
Hodgson will bring together his full squad for the first time today with the return of World Cup finalists Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel to Melwood.
With just 13 days until the visit of Arsenal on August 15 and Thursday’s Europa League return against FK Rabotnicki their final warm-up fixture, Hodgson has already warned his team is ill prepared for their domestic opener.
But Cole has dismissed such fears, and said: “We have looked solid in all the pre-season games and we can build on that. We lost the game but the young lads who were playing got good experience.
“Nobody is firing on all cylinders yet but there were some good moments and the main thing we will take out of it is the shape of the team and the organisation, which was good.
“We will be ready for the Arsenal game. It’s been a challenging pre-season but it’s the same for everyone.”
Of his debut, Cole added: “It was lovely to pull on a red shirt. I really enjoyed it. I’m glad I got a run-out because I needed to get the legs going.”
A once-again makeshift Liverpool side were beaten yesterday when, for the second weekend in a row, a mistake by centre-back Danny Ayala allowed the opponents to capitalise, Borussia striker Karim Matmour scoring the only goal on eight minutes.
“I thought it was quite an even game,” said Hodgson. “Unfortunately, as in the game against Kaiserslautern we gave away a very cheap goal.
“Borussia, like Kaiserslautern, didn’t actually have to score a goal against us because we actually gave them one.
“But after that the game was even and there were not many clearcut chances for either team.”
With Torres and Kuyt absent and David Ngog rested, young Finnish forward Lauri Dalla Valle led the line for Liverpool.
And Hodgson said: “I thought the passing of both teams in midfield and defence was good and I was impressed with the strength of the two Borussia centre-backs, they were extremely strong in the air.
“But with the type of players I have at my disposal at the moment that I can use as forwards, it’s too big an ask to ask Academy players to perform against the likes of Dante and Brouwers because they don’t have the strength or experience to do that yet.”
The game, which was played to commemorate Borussia’s 110th anniversary, attracted a crowd of 51,515.
And Hodgson added: “It’s incredible to have a friendly match in front of 50,000 people. It’s a credit to Borussia that they can have that many people at a friendly game and I hope they enjoyed watching it.
“I thought the game was played in a very good spirit. Borussia are going to be a good team this season.
“It was a bit embarrassing to come and play such a big match with such a young, inexperienced team. But if Borussia were satisfied with the game, then I was.”