By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Kolo Toure has been a shining example to the rest of the Liverpool squad this season and should be above Martin Skrtel in the centre-back pecking order, according to John Aldridge.
The former Anfield striker disagreed with Jurgen Klopp’s decision to substitute Dejan Lovren at half-time during Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Southampton but has claimed Toure and not Skrtel should have replaced the Croatian.
The Merseysiders were 2-0 up and in total control at St Mary’s Stadium when Klopp removed Lovren, who had received a yellow card and come close to giving away a penalty in the opening period.
Skrtel then had a catastrophic 45 minutes in which he conceded a penalty and looked completely out of his depth as Southampton mounted a famous comeback to seal the three points.
It was Skrtel’s first match for the senior team since suffering a hamstring injury at Watford in December.
“In truth Martin Skrtel has struggled for a while, we haven’t seen the best of him for some time,” Aldridge wrote in his Liverpool Echo column.
“Against Watford, he got bullied, got injured and left the pitch. He’s been out for a long time since then.
“Since then he’s only had time with the U21s, where of course he got sent off in the week against West Ham. On Sunday they’ve scored three after he’s come on and he’s been involved in some of the goals and given away a penalty.
“However I don’t disagree with Klopp’s decision to take Lovren off. At half-time I was thinking Lovren could struggle here, the crowd were baying for blood and it was starting to influence decisions.
What the manager couldn’t see was what would happen when he brought Skrtel on because he obviously expected him to deliver a solid performance.”
Aldridge has been impressed with the contribution of veteran Toure, who has made 19 appearances this season, 13 of which have been starts, as a back-up defender.
“I think Kolo Toure certainly has a strong argument for the fact it should have been him coming on,” the former Republic of Ireland striker explained. “I think among Liverpool’s squad players Kolo has been excellent this season.
“He’s been class in the dressing room, in the Merseyside area when he’s been representing the club as an ambassador and he’s never let us down when he’s played.
“I think Sunday will have seen the manager find out quite a lot about what needs to happen with the squad at the end of the season.”