WOLVERHAMPTON, January 25 – Martin Skrtel has urged Liverpool to go on a long winning run as Rafa Benitez's side look to strengthen their Champions League claims with a victory at struggling Wolves on Tuesday.
Uncertainty continues to surround the future of Reds manager Benitez as a result of Liverpool’s failings, with his team already eliminated from the League Cup, FA Cup and Champions League.
After being humiliated by Reading in the FA Cup, Liverpool earned a battling draw at Stoke before beating Tottenham and Skrtel believes his side’s lack of domestic cup games will mean they are fresher than their closest rivals in the race for a top four finish.
Skrtel said: "I firmly believe that better times are ahead of us as up to present we have been far behind the pre-season objectives.
"The last two games against Stoke and Tottenham showed us that we are ready to do our best for the club. We would like to start a long winning run.
"In the Premier League we want to finish fourth in the worst case. Unlike our rivals, though, we will be playing fewer games, so we should be more relaxed and have more energy.
"I believe we will reach our objective of finishing within the top four. Also, we are still in the Europa League and will be trying to get as far as possible."
One player hoping to be an integral part of Liverpool’s expected charge is Alberto Aquilani, who admits the pressure is still on him to justify his substantial price tag following a difficult start to his Anfield career after joining from AS Roma.
The Italian midfielder is expected to make another start at Wolves, despite the expected return of Steven Gerrard from a hamstring problem, although Benitez will still be without injured star striker Fernando Torres.
Aquilani said: "I know a lot has been said and written about me so far without me being able to prove my ability in matches. But soon, I believe that I will.
"I understand that people are still wondering whether I will be a good signing for Liverpool, but I need to be judged after I have played in a run of games. I feel a lot better about my fitness now, although it could still be higher.
"I am relaxed because I know I can do a lot better, and with time I know that will happen."
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy rested several key players for the weekend’s 2-2 FA Cup draw with Crystal Palace and has no regrets despite the poor result.
McCarthy said: "I had no hesitation in making the changes. Of course I was thinking of the Liverpool game.
"With the team we played, any club in the Championship would be thrilled with that side.
"But I have to manage the squad for games and will do it again. We’ve got a draw in the FA Cup and it’s better than being out of the competition."
Ronald Zubar was handed a rare start and is now hoping to retain his place against Liverpool.
He said: "Hopefully it will be enough to keep me in the team. Liverpool is a massive game, I’m working hard to try and be picked for it. The gaffer makes the decision and you have to respect it, but I’m happy with the way I played against Palace.
"It’s a good time to play Liverpool. They are not having a brilliant season and it’s important to play them at this moment in time."