LIVERPOOL keeper Pepe Reina admits his recent spell on the sidelines was tough to take but insists he has learned from his suspension.
The Reds shot-stopper served a three-match ban following his dismissal for squaring up to Newcastle’s James Perch at St James’ Park earlier this month.
Reina missed league games against Aston Villa and Blackburn as well as the FA Cup semi-final with Everton at Wembley.
In his absence Alexander Doni and Brad Jones both deputised and the Spaniard, who had previously made 183 successive league appearances, was relieved to finally return to action against West Brom last weekend.
“It’s the longest time I’ve not played since coming to Liverpool,” Reina said.
“It was frustrating because every footballer always wants to play all of the time.
“It has probably been the most difficult period of my Liverpool career in terms of not being able to play. It has seemed like a long time. But I have learned from that.
“You always have to be on your toes and do your best because the other lads are pushing, pushing, pushing all of the time. They won’t give up.
“Now they are breathing down my neck more than ever so I have to be up for it and do my best.”
Liverpool’s league form has been a major disappointment this season and they go into Saturday’s game at Norwich City in eighth place.
However, with the Reds just 90 minutes away from completing a domestic cup double Reina insists there is plenty to be optimistic about.
“There’s no doubt that we have improved from last season already,” he added.
“Last season we finished seventh and that is still possible even though we would have liked to finish higher.
“We have still won one trophy with the possibility of a second while also qualifying for Europe.
“The target of the club is still to get back in the Champions League but before the beginning of the season, if someone said we would win the Carling Cup and reach the final of the FA Cup with the chance of winning that as well as getting seventh, probably most people would have taken that.”
For the full interview with Pepe Reina see this week’s LFC Weekly.