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Football: Pre-season togather with Reds is than Marines! Anfield starlet Anderson on why training is harder than army boot camp.

Byline: Chris Bascombe

LIVERPOOL'S pre-season workout is tougher than training with the marines. Take it from someone who's now experienced both.

A year ago, teenager Paul Anderson was sent to boot camp in Exeter with the Hull youth team. After a month with Liverpool's senior squad, he's in no doubt what's more demanding.

"I would say this is harder," says the 18-year-old, who's been promoted from the reserve ranks for the new campaign.

"Training with the marines was obviously extremely tough physically. I did all the stuff you'd expect last year with the weights and the assault courses, but the difference here is you've not only got all the physical activities, but there's the mental side to playing football too.

"You have to do a lot of thinking tactically which can also take a lot out of you. As a whole, I've done more work here than I did last year. That was more of a team building exercise."

While it's clear from the performances in Switzerland the fitness regime has taken its toll on several players, Anderson is relishing every second of his first taste of a European trip as a senior professional.

Six months after his surprise signing from Hull, he's been rewarded with a new four-year contract and given every indication Rafa Ben-z sees him as a part of the club's future.

Anderson admits he wasn't anticipating so much so early into his Liverpool career.

"We've been doing double training sessions, and it's all been hard work and completely new to me, but you won't hear me complain," he said.

"I'm really enjoying being a part of the first team squad.

"It was a bit of a shock when I got the call to go with the lads to Switzerland, to be honest. I was just sitting at home when the phone rang and I was told I was expected at Melwood a week earlier because I'd be involved in the friendlies.

'The marines was extremely tough but there's the mental side to playing football to"Then the new contract was mentioned by the manager and Rick Parry, which was completely out of the blue.

"For me to be given an extra couple of years not only gives me some extra security over my future, but also a lot of confidence because the manager obviously feels I've done something right.

"I feel a lot more relaxed now and feel I can play some good football. "I think I've made an impression and done okay, but I know I've a really long way to go yet, especially after seeing the lads train close up.

"When I'm in training with the likes of Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, it's a massive step up from anything I've known befo re.

"It's the pace of the play, day in, day out, which takes most getting used to. You can have good days where you think you've handled yourself well, but when you're at their level it's the same every day, and there are times when you wonder how you're ever going to do that.

"But I've only been training with the first team a month and I hope the more used to it I get, the more comfortable I'll be. I want to be as good as them and the experience I'm getting now can only help me."

It's easy to see why Anderson has created such an immediate mark on the coaching staff. Confident without being cocky, and a highly articulate and level-headed teenager, his demeanour off the park also fits the typical Liverpool profile of emerging young talent.

Inevitably, it's performances on the park which make or break ambitions, and Benitez will be anxious to ensure Anderson, Jack Hobbs and Academy starlet Lee Peltier learn from their summer camp, and aren't under too much pressure to make an immediate step up.

"It's helped having Lee, Jack and myself here together," says Anderson.

"The senior lads don't keep you out of things and always try to keep you involved, but obviously it's good to have people around going through the same experience so you don't feel you're on your own.

"My aim is to put a lot of good performances the reserves and maybe push myself into consideration for a place on the bench for the first team.

"A few of the younger lads will also have their eye on the League Cup, because that's always a chance for a game."

Having achieved so much, so quickly, it would easy for Anderson to set his targets too high for the months ahead.

Privately, you might also think he'd look forward to a meeting with Watford more than most, given their manager once told him he didn't see his future at the highest level. "I'm not particularly bothered about that. I'd be happy to play for Liverpool against anyone," says Anderson.

"To be fair, I have spoken to Ade Boothroyd since I moved here and he wished me all the best.

"He just said there are some decisions in football you take for the right reason, but they can come back to haunt you." Should Anderson fulfil his potential and become a first team regular at Anfield, the Watford boss may be possessed by one particular demon for the rest of his coaching career


ONE FOR THE FUTURE: Paul Anderson in action in the Reds'pre-season clash with Kaiserslautern
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 4, 2006
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