Liverpool boss denies speculation surrounding teenage midfielder

Brendan Rodgers addressed the media ahead of Liverpool's Merseyside derby clash with Everton on Saturday. He also spoke about Derby County's prodigy…

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has denied any truth in speculation that Derby County midfielder Will Hughes will join the club in January.

Hughes, 18, is reported to have been pursued by Liverpool for a while, with some reports suggesting a £12m deal is in place for the youngster to swap Pride Park for Anfield in the New Year.

However, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Merseyside derby clash with Everton, Rodgers said: ‘I never normally say anything when it’s speculation about players but I’ve got to say I do feel for this young guy. This is a very talented young player that either a person or a group of people aren’t doing him any favours whatsoever by constantly linking him with coming to Liverpool.

On reports that a deal has been agreed between the two clubs, Rodgers said it was ‘nothing further from the truth.’

‘He’s a young kid who is learning the game, he’s at an outstanding club at Derby County which is a big club, with a great manager there. We sent one of our young players there to develop and learn and I think Will Hughes is a wonderful young talent who just needs to play football and for me he’s probably at the best place he could be.’

Ahead of the match with Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, Rodgers said that Kolo Toure is back in training but Jose Enrique will be sidelined because he needs to have an operation on his knee – with no time scale placed on his recovery yet. The Reds’ boss also revealed that Daniel Sturridge has been playing with a dead leg for the best part of a month

On the game itself, the Liverpool boss said: ‘It’s going to be a fiercely competitive game. It’s always intense, the build-up is great.’

He also said that Everton are going to be challenging – along with Liverpool – for a Champions League place this season.

‘They’re going to be there challenging. The recent history shows you that.

‘They looked like they were going to be in line for the top four last season but dropped off a wee bit, but still finished top six. So they’ve been very competitive and have been up and around there for a few years. Roberto [Martinez] has come in and will do an excellent job there.’

image: © Bernard C

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