Liverpool full-back Jose Enrique believes Martin Skrtel can rediscover his best form and replace Jamie Carragher next season.

Carragher will retire at the end of the season following a 17-year career at Anfield spanning over 700 club appearances.

The Reds are expected to add to their defensive options in the summer, with Swansea City captain Ashley Williams among the candidates, but Skrtel, who has fallen out of favour during the second half of the campaign, has been tipped to fill the void.

Martin Skrtel
Skrtel has been backed to lead the Liverpool defence next season.

"Carragher is the type of player who wants to play all the time," Enrique said. "You cannot say anything about a player who has played more than 700 times.

"And I know it has been a difficult year for Skrtel because he has not been playing as much but last year he was the best centre-back and this year he is the worst.

"But I train with Martin every day and he is a top centre-back. For me [Daniel] Agger and Martin are the best centre-back partnership in the Premier League.

"You can have one year good, one year bad. It happened to me. The players who play in the Premier League are there because they have quality and confidence.

"It is all about confidence. Martin is an incredible lad and a top player."

Despite beginning the season under Brendan Rodgers as first-choice alongside Daniel Agger, Skrtel's inability to adapt to the Northern Irishman's style of play, coupled with a succession of individual errors has seen Carragher thrust into the Liverpool first team.

The Slovakian has started just one of Liverpool's last 12 league games and his future at the club beyond the end of the season is shrouded in uncertainty, after he criticised Rodgers for his reasoning behind his continued omission.

"He gave me some explanation, but it's hard to tell if it was the true reason he gave me," said Skrtel. "I don't think it was and think there is something else behind it.

"For three years at Liverpool I was playing in almost every match. I have had various thoughts but certainly I'm not going to make any hot-blooded decisions.

"I want to be fit as soon as possible and fight for the place in the starting line-up. If the coach should lose interest in keeping me in his team, then we would have to handle it with my agent."