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A new defender is a necessity for Dalglish and Shawcross could be just what he needs.

After his team's woeful defensive display in pre-season, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is looking to beef up his options at the back and is reportedly considering a bid for Stoke City skipper Ryan Shawcross.

The Reds conceded 12 goals in four pre-season games and Dalglish is well aware that if his side is to match expectations of a top-four finish, he'll have to strengthen the department.

Shawcross has been a regular for Stoke over the past four seasons and has helped manager Tony Pulis build his defence at the Britannia Stadium. He also scores his fair share of goals for a centre-back. The 23-year-old harbours hopes of a place in the England national squad and a move to Anfield will help him do that.

Shawcross could be of immense help to a Liverpool midfield, as it consists of Daniel Agger whose injury problems make him unreliable and Martin Skrtel who has a calf problem and missed the entire pre-season. And with both Jamie Carragher and Sotirios Kyrgiakos on the wrong side of 30, a young addition to the backline becomes a necessity.

Elsewhere, Joe Cole could be on his way back to his former club West Ham on a loan move, if Liverpool pay the lion's share of his salary, according to a report in footie-online.co.uk. Cole currently earns £90,000 a week and if Liverpool manage to reach an agreement with West Ham on the percentage of salary they've to pay, Cole will attempt to rejuvenate his career with a season in the Championship.

However, Tottenham among other clubs have shown an interest in the 29-year-old, and Liverpool will prefer a permanent move to a loan.

Another midfielder Liverpool are looking to offload is Alberto Aquilani, and reports suggest the player is back on Fiorentina's radar. During prior negotiations, Fiorentina offered only a loan deal while the player wanted a permanent one, and the deal went cold.

However, the Italian side's manager, Sinisa Mihajlovic, has not lost hope of signing the player.

"Aquilani deal up in smoke? From now until the end of the market there is still plenty of time, let's not lose hope," Mihajlovic told La Repubblica. The club, myself, and director of sport Pantaleo Corvino have clear ideas and we know exactly what to do."

Finally, the Reds' skipper Steven Gerrard will miss the beginning of the season after picking up an infection due to his long-standing groin injury.

Liverpool released a statement confirming the news.

"Steven Gerrard began a course of antibiotic treatment for an infection related to an ongoing groin problem. He is expected to remain in hospital for several days while the precautionary procedure is completed. 

"The player will then return to Melwood to continue his rehabilitation programme and is expected to be available for selection in September."

Gerrard missed many games last season due to a similar injury and is expected to miss games against Sunderland, Arsenal and Bolton as well as International fixtures against Bulgaria ande Wales for England.