Hodgson happy with current squad
Published 26/11/2010 | 15:41
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson admits he has changed his opinion on players he inherited from predecessor Rafael Benitez and is now keen to keep the squad intact.
Early on in his tenure, when a number of World Cup players were still getting up to speed and results were poor, the 63-year-old felt there had to be significant changes.
New England Sports Ventures' acquisition of the club in October prompted suggestions of a major spending spree in January, but Hodgson acknowledges he may have been too hasty in his assessment of the playing staff.
Last week's first half against West Ham was as well as they have played all season - albeit against benign opposition - and took their haul in the last six matches to 13 points.
There have been a couple of blips, the draw at Wigan and defeat at Stoke, but otherwise there has been a gradual improvement.
And now Hodgson is prepared to keep faith with the players he has at his disposal, having been denied the services of Fernando Torres, Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard at various stages.
"Basically I know what my best team is - the best team is more than 11 players," said the Reds boss, who accepts his view may have been tainted by poor results.
"I could have a best team and say one week it is with X and another week it is Y but it still would be my best team because the players are interchangeable.
"I have a very clear picture now of what we should and need to be doing and the squad is stronger and getting stronger.
"It was probably stronger than I realised at certain stages in the early part of the season when we were losing games.
"Hopefully that will mean we won't need to do too much in the January transfer window because it might be nice if we can keep all of these players fit and well and add the odd player or two who can help us.
"I have a lot of faith in the players who are playing at the moment because in the last two or three weeks we have put in some good performances."
Hodgson and his scouting team have been spotted at various matches on the continent in the last few weeks.
But his belief that things are improving, allied to an uncertainty of what transfer funds will be available, is likely to mean a limited amount of activity in January.
"I don't know what is going to happen in the transfer window," said Hodgson.
"We are doing a lot of work, covering a lot of matches and looking at a lot of players.
"We are trying to arm ourselves as much as possible with information.
"It is the work in progress which every club has to do - constantly monitoring players and what is out there, what might be useful for you because you never know what is around the corner.
"When push comes to shove in January none of us know as yet what transfer funds can be made available and we have no idea if there will be any guarantee the people we are watching will be available.
"I would like to continue with this squad of players until the end of the season because I have no ambitions or desires to move anyone.
"But on the other hand I can't give a stone certain guarantee that there won't be players moving in January, and if so we would need to know where to go for their replacements."
Hodgson is hopeful of having Joe Cole available for Sunday's match against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, where a victory by two goals would take them above Harry Redknapp's side.
The England international has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury but has now recovered, although he is missing match fitness.
"He looks quite good. It is going to be a question of whether or not the sports science people think he has enough minutes in him for us to risk playing him," said the Reds boss.
"He has certainly recovered medically so now it is just a case of when we take the plunge, as it were."