Hodgson full of belief


BIRMINGHAM, September 11- Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is confident he has enough firepower to mount a challenge for honours despite missing out on several targets before the transfer deadline.Hodgson’s side have managed just two goals from the opening three Premier League games, which have yielded four points and included a dismal 3-0 defeat at Manchester City.

But the Reds boss has put his faith in Fernando Torres and David Ngog, who are expected to lead the attack when Liverpool return to action after the international break at Birmingham on Sunday.

The need for new firepower increased in the wake of a serious shoulder injury to Dirk Kuyt earlier in the week that is expected to rule out the Netherlands forward for several weeks.

Despite the club being linked with a number of goalscorers, including Sweden’s Ola Toivonen, the transfer deadline came and went last week without any new strikers arriving at Anfield.

But Hodgson insists there are enough goals in his side to sustain a strong challenge for trophies before the next window opens in January.

"I don’t think there was a great choice in terms of centre-forwards out there for any of the teams," Hodgson said.

"We didn’t see much movement in terms of strikers between the Premier League clubs.

"There’s a lot of clubs chasing a particular type of player. Maybe that player at the moment doesn’t exist.

"And the money we needed to sign a player of that quality came to the club very late anyway. It was only after the sale of (Javier) Mascherano that I would have had the money available to do a transfer at a high enough level.

"So there’s two things. One, the shortage of time would have bothered me and I would have been concerned that we were jumping into something without researching it fully. And two, I didn’t see the players out there that really excited me.

"I preferred to put my weight behind David Ngog and Ryan Babel, who’s never really been given a proper chance at centre-forward at the club.

"We have Fernando Torres, we have good players who can play behind a lone striker. I’m hoping that between now and Christmas we’ll have ample quality to see us through that period.

"And in the meantime we have chance to do thorough scouting so that if the money is available, we could look into the situation again.

"I will be using David Ngog and Ryan Babel in certain games to give Fernando Torres a rest and it’s up to them to prove to me that there’s no need to look further than them."

Despite his failure to bring in a forward, Hodgson will be in a position to show off some new faces at Birmingham.

Left-back Paul Konchesky is likely to start following his move from Fulham, while Portugal international midfielder Raul Meireles is challenging for a place in midfield.

It is a sign of how far Birmingham have come in a short space of time that they were able to sign players from clubs of the calibre of Barcelona, Manchester United and Valencia before the transfer deadline.

But Alexander Hleb, on loan from Barca for a year, has had his debut delayed because of a leg injury.

Alex McLeish’s hard working ethos has rubbed off on his players and supporters will be buoyed that the Scot is "inches away" from extending his contract at Birmingham.

"Talks have progressed and I’m just inches away from signing a new contract," said McLeish, in charge at Birmingham since November 2007.

"The figures and everything are fine — we’ve just got to iron out the rough edges. We’re pretty close and there are just a couple of technicalities, a release clause and that kind of thing, but it’s not excessive from either camp and it’s absolutely standard."