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Cole shines on debut

New Liverpool signing Joe Cole admitted to being nervous ahead of his competitive debut at Anfield, but it did not show as the former Chelsea midfielder was the stand-out player in the 2-0 Europa League win over Rabotnicki.

The 28-year-old did everything but score, providing the cross for David Ngog's opening header before Steven Gerrard converted a penalty after the French striker was fouled just before half-time.

It secured a 4-0 aggregate victory over the Macedonians in the third qualifying round, putting them into today's draw for the play-off round.

"It was good. I was nervous before the game but it's always like that when you go to a new club," said the England international.

"It was good to get 90 minutes in and get the win in the end.

"The main difference (at Anfield as a Liverpool player) is that I wasn't getting too much stick. That's different.

"I enjoyed it, I needed the 90 minutes. I ran out of petrol a bit with 20 minutes to go but it was needed.

"It would have been nice to have scored but I'm sure that will come soon."

Hodgson had praise for his new signing on his home debut after starting the former Chelsea midfielder in a central role behind striker Ngog.

"Joe is desperate to play. He came here because he thought he might get the opportunity to start more games than he did at Chelsea," said the former Fulham boss. He is an enthusiastic and effervescent footballer, and the more he plays the happier he is.

"His energy and enthusiasm tonight meant he had a really good home debut." On the team performance as a whole, Hodgson added: "I am perfectly satisfied. We played some very attractive football and created lots of chances, more than the scoreline suggests."

While the performance against Rabotnicki was straightforward, matters off the pitch are far from settled, with the club currently being dominated by takeover speculation.

Rumours yesterday suggested the Chinese government was behind a bid fronted by Hong Kong-based businessman Kenny Huang, while Syrian Yahya Kirdi has claimed he is in pole position to become the new owner.

Hodgson admits he does not have any involvement in that side of the club's business but he is acutely aware what impact continued delays in a change of ownership could have on his plans for squad building.

"We have made some signings so far and we hope to bring in at least a couple of other players," added the Englishman, who yesterday had a bid for Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Jones turned down.

"I think the danger would be in a late takeover that money would be made available but we wouldn't have had a chance to research the players in this transfer window.

"We are doing our research in this window and targeting players that the club is capable and able to buy.

"If one day an enormous amount of money is made available, like it was for Manchester City and Chelsea, so be it, it would be nice.

"But we would still have to do a lot of research before we started splashing that money around."


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