Liverpool's Martin Kelly feels he is fit enough to challenge for his place
Liverpool's Martin Kelly feels he is almost at peak fitness after conceding it has taken longer than expected to return.
Last Updated: 11/12/13 1:05pm
Kelly ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament against Manchester United in September 2012 and made his comeback against the same opponents in the Capital One Cup 12 months after the original injury.
He has since featured twice in the Premier League as a substitute, including when coming on for the last 11 minutes of Liverpool's 4-1 win over West Ham United last Saturday.
"It was a good chance for me to get some minutes," Kelly, who played for the Under 21s earlier this week, told the Liverpool Echo.
"I'm feeling a lot sharper. I've been doing some additional training over the past few weeks and I'm ready to push on.
"It has taken longer than I hoped to get back to this level but that's been brought on by us not being in the Europa League or having much of a run in the League Cup.
"It's been difficult to get game time as the manager has to pick his best XI to start every game
"I was just made up to get on against West Ham and now I need to keep progressing. I've been working hard and I feel a lot fitter than back in pre-season.
"I don't think there's been a mental barrier to get through as such, it's more about not feeling as sharp as I wanted.
"Ask anyone who has had a long-term injury and they'll tell you it's tough to get back to that level you were at before the injury.
"It takes time and it comes back slowly. Now I'm back nearly to peak fitness and I'm ready to go."
So far in his Liverpool career, Kelly has mostly played on the right side of defence, but he slotted in at left-back against West Ham and is pleased to play anywhere Brendan Rodgers needs him.
"I am happy playing anywhere across the back four for Liverpool," he added.
"It's a case of biding my time, being patient and making sure that when the manager gives me another opportunity I am ready to take it."