Liverpool’s Chris Kirkland has arrived in the Midlands today to start a two-week trial with West Brom. The trial runs until July 15th and is more about assessing his fitness rather than his abilities.
If the trial works out then 24-year-old Chris will join the Baggies on loan until May 15th next year. The terms of the loan deal mean that Liverpool will not be able to recall Kirlkand at any time, according to the official West Brom website.
Kirkland joined Liverpool in 2001, costing £6million. He joined at the same time as Jerzy Dudek who’s been the first choice for much of Kirkland’s Anfield career. Kirkland is going to have to compete with Russell Hoult and Tomasz Kuszczak at the Hawthorns, with no guarantee of getting the number 1 spot from manager Bryan Robson. Robson said: "I’m trying to get good competition for places all the way through the squad. I thought Russell Hoult did a good, steady job for the club last year and we’ve got great competition in that area with these three goalkeepers."
Kirkland’s father will be hoping that this loan move enables his son to make it back into the England squad and then onto the pitch for his country – he stands to be paid out on a substantial bet made many years ago should his son play for England. He did make eight under-21 appearances, but with Liverpool signing the current under-21 keeper Scott Carson and about to sign Jose Reina, Kirkland would be one of four top-quality keepers at the club this coming season.
Robson feels that Kirkland will be able to prove to the Premiership just how good he is during the loan move: "Chris Kirkland is a top quality keeper who forced his way into the England squad and was then just a bit unlucky with injuries. The medical staff we’ve spoken to are confident Chris shouldn’t have any ongoing problems after the operation he had on his back." Robson was referring to the surgery Kirkland had that kept him out for most of last season – it was to cure a long-standing back problem which was just one of many, unconnected, injuries he’d been unfortunate to suffer. As well as the back injury he had ankle and wrist injuries, and even had to have metal plates inserted into one of his fingers after breaking it. Robson hopes that’s the end of the player’s bad luck: "Hopefully he can stay away from injuries and get back to the form that got him his reputation."
Another Liverpool goalkeeper, Patrice Luzi, has returned to Melwood despite being released by Liverpool at the end of the season. He had an unsuccessful trial in Belgium and has otherwise been unable to find another club. Luzi is therefore entitled to remain a Liverpool player and collect his reportedly high wages until he finds somewhere else to play – and Liverpool want him to turn up for training until does. Another player that’s looking for a club is Gregory Vignal. Vignal spent last season on loan at Rangers but turned down a permanent move. He’s reportedly an unpopular figure with the rest of the Liverpool squad, in particular the reserves, and is not likely to be a part of Rafa Benitez’s plans.