Roy hopeful duo can hit it off
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is positive that Steven Gerrard and Raul Meireles can combine in midfield.
Last Updated: 20/09/10 4:54pm
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is positive that Steven Gerrard and new signing Raul Meireles can combine in midfield to regain UEFA Champions League football next season.
The 27-year-old was captured for £10.7million from Porto as a replacement for the outgoing Javier Mascherano and Alberto Aquilani on the final weekend of the transfer window in August.
He has so far made three appearances, including 79 minutes in their 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, where he provided Fernando Torres with the pass that led to the free-kick for their second goal.
Meireles, who was courted by both United and Chelsea during the summer, played in an advanced role behind Torres at Old Trafford, but Hodgson admitted he was unsure where to utilise the Portuguese international best as of yet.
"They (he and Gerrard) are certainly interchangeable," said the 62-year-old.
"We signed Meireles and the day after he went for 10 days away with Portugal and then came back for two days and made a substitute appearance against Birmingham.
"He had two training sessions and played on Thursday night and he played again on Sunday so it is very early for me to make very strong judgements about where his best position is.
"The work we do on the training field will show me how best to use him.
"He actually went out wide right late in the United game and did okay there also.
"All I can say is he has a lot of qualities and I'm sure we'll get a lot of use out of him.
"Most importantly he is a good and talented footballer and he is capable of playing anywhere across the midfield so we will see how we box it up together."
Fourth place priority
Despite being ten points off leaders Chelsea after just five games, the Reds remain just three off fourth place, with victory against Sunderland at Anfield on Saturday now essential.
Hodgson highlighted that fourth place was the club's main focus, but insisted that unlike former Reds boss Rafa Benitez's guarantee that Liverpool would finish in that position last season, he could not make any promises.
"Our goal at the start of the season was to compete for a Champions League place," added the former Fulham boss.
"And if you are competing for a Champions League place you are perhaps automatically competing for the league because quite often the difference between first and fourth is not a vast number of points.
"If we become good enough to get ourselves in the top four who knows we might also get close to the number one position.
"I haven't made any bold statements on that at all. I don't say we can't do it and I definitely don't say we are going to.
"We are certainly in a transitional period but that fact per se does not have to be negative."