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Skrtel and Liverpool set for talks to 'define' their plans for future

LIVERPOOL defender Martin Skrtel's future could be decided next week with his agent due to fly in for talks. Speculation about the Slovakia international has been widespread ever since he lost his first-team place to the now-retired Jamie Carragher in January.

He has recently been linked to a reunion with Rafael Benitez – the man who took him to Anfield – after the Spaniard was appointed Napoli coach. And although agent Karol Csonto has told the Italian club they will have to approach the Reds first, he did not dismiss the idea of the 28-year-old (pictured left) moving to Serie A.

"There has been no contact between the two clubs. Martin has a contract with Liverpool and it is important to honour that," Csonto said. "Obviously Napoli know Martin well, but there cannot be any contact between us and them if they do not first reach an agreement with Liverpool. But I think that if Napoli want to take Skrtel, they should first talk to Liverpool. I will be in England next week to talk with Liverpool and define Martin's future."

Liverpool are tracking Schalke centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos as a replacement for Carragher, but they also have interest in other targets as the future of Skrtel and Sebastian Coates means there could be a major reshuffle in defence. Ajax's Toby Alderweireld is also believed to be on Rodgers' watch list.


Navas excited to sign for City

New Manchester City signing Jesus Navas is thrilled about the prospect of linking up with Spain team-mate David Silva to bring more silverware to the Etihad Stadium.

The winger sealed his move from Sevilla to City last week for a total of £22.9m and is currently in New York with the national side, preparing for a friendly with the Republic of Ireland tonight. The world and European champions will then travel to Brazil to compete in the Confederations Cup, which begins on June 14.

Navas said: "I was certain I wanted to move there and I'm very happy it's done. I'm going to play with David Silva and I'm excited about winning important trophies." The 27-year-old has only ever played for Sevilla.


Mac's Town to take on Shels

MICK McCARTHY will return to Ireland next month with his Ipswich Town side as part of a four-game series organized by Shelbourne.

Shels have lined up four games against cross-channel opposition, with a recession-busting price of a €30 package for all four games for adults (concessions €20 and €15).

The Reds take on Peterborough United (July 2nd), Ipswich (July 6th), Aberdeen (July 20th) and a Leeds United XI (July 29th).


O'Brien excited by Cork visit

JOEY O'BRIEN is relishing a trip back to Ireland next month when his West Ham United side take on Cork City in a friendly.

Sam Allardyce has agreed to play Cork at Turner's Cross on July 7th, a chance for Dubliner O'Brien to play on a familiar stage.

"I have played at Turner's Cross before. I played there for the Republic of Ireland U19s against England, I think it was. The place was absolutely rocking with the crowd," says O'Brien.

"I know people from that part of the world and they are a very, very patriotic bunch and it made for a great night. I'm sure that game when we play them in pre-season will also attract a good crowd to Turner's Cross.

"I've never been on a pre-season tour to Ireland before since I came over to England when I was 16, so it should be something different from normal when we have been to places that are really, really hot."


Saints get Rovers in last eight

Holders Drogheda United have been handed a home game against Cork City In the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup. Airtricity League Premier Division leaders St Patrick's Athletic must travel to Tallaght Stadium to face Shamrock Rovers, who have already won the Setanta Sports Cup this season.

EA SPORTS Cup Quarter-Final draw: Bohemians v Derry City; Drogheda United v Cork City; Shamrock Rovers v St Patrick's Athletic; Limerick v Sligo Rovers.

Ties to be played on Monday, July 1.


Reid ready for West Brom exit

FORMER Ireland man Steven Reid is expected to leave West Brom after an injury-scarred season. It had been expected that Reid (32) would stay on at the Hawthorns next season but it's understood that the club are reluctant to offer him a new one-year deal, and Reid has suggested that he may have to move on. "Whatever happens in next few weeks, I have had an unbelievable time at West Brom in the last three years. Fans, players and staff have all been a pleasure to work with," he said.