Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has urged his teammates to continue the momentum built up over a positive pre-season campaign, as we prepare for our final two fixtures before the new Premier League season gets underway.
The Reds have won three out of four matches so far – with the quartet of fixtures making up our tour of the Far East – but Finnish side HJK are likely to prove our sternest challenge yet.
Victories over the Thai All-Stars, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United, as well as a draw with the Malaysia XI have shown a decent amount of progress since the end of last season, with several of our new signings getting their first opportunities in a Liverpool shirt.
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Christian Benteke and Roberto Firmino – who did not make the tour – could make their first-team debuts in Saturday’s game, while Emre Can and Philippe Coutinho could also play some part after enjoying extended holidays.
Speaking about the game in Helsinki, Skrtel told our official website: “I have been there two or three times. The last time I was in Helsinki was, I think, three years ago when I went to see the Slovakian ice hockey team.
“We won the silver medal so I have good memories and we have a lot of fans over there so it should be an interesting game as well. We know we have a lot of fans there so it is similar to going to Asia. We want to go there so they can see us play.
“It’ll be a nice experience and it’s the last game before the season starts so it’ll be very good for us. That game will be very important because it’s one week before the season starts so it’s very important to get a result and get confidence up.”
Skrtel has endured a mixed pre-season thus far. He looked uncharacteristically shaky alongside Dejan Lovren in Kuala Lumpur last time out, and it will be interesting to see which centre-back pairing Brendan Rodgers goes with during out upcoming pair of games.
The Slovakian is likely to keep hold of his spot, despite his recent struggles, with Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure then vying to start alongside him.