Dejan Lovren has claimed he is ready to fill in for Mamadou Sakho, whose injury rules him out of the Premier League trip to Manchester City on 21 November. The Croatia international admitted that he has not made the impact he wanted following his move from Southampton, but believes he is now "comfortable" at Merseyside and ready to prove himself once more.
The 26-year-old moved to Anfield in the summer of 2014 for around £20m ($30.4m) after garnering a reputation as one of the best centre-backs during his time at the Saints. However, he struggled to replicate that form in his debut campaign, and this season a costly error against West Ham United saw him pilloried by fans and pundits alike. Sakho replaced him in the first team soon after.
But Sakho's ligament knee injury sustained during the game against Crystal Palace – which is expected to sideline him for six weeks – will give Lovren the chance to prove himself once more, and he is convinced this time he will not fail.
"Mamadou had a good couple of games and a good start to the season. We played in Rubin Kazan together and were feeling really good," Lovren said to Liverpool's official website. "But you never know in football – injuries can happen today or tomorrow. So you need to be prepared. I was working hard all the time so I'm ready and looking forward to playing.
The Croatia international admits last season was "tough" for him, but is determined to put things right this time round.
"Last year I had a tough year," he said. "I didn't do pre-season with the team and everything was such a rush. Everyone, all together, has started better than last year. It was important for me that I had a good pre-season with the team and I'm feeling more comfortable now.
"I know the expectations – I know a little bit more about the club and the feelings of the fans. When you do a pre-season outside the UK, you see what a great club and a big club it is. I'm proud to be here. Now my thing is to be here for as long as possible and to win something with the club."