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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Smicer glad to relinquish shirt
Exclusive by John Sinnott

Liverpool's Czech international Vladimir Smicer
Smicer admits Liverpool have yet to see the best of him
Vladimir Smicer is happy to see the back of the number seven shirt Liverpool's new signing Harry Kewell has inherited.

The Australian is following in the footsteps of Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish, two of Liverpool's greats, in being handed the number seven jersey.

But it is a shirt number that has brought Smicer little fortune with his progress at Anfield hindered by a succession of niggling injuries since he joined Liverpool four seasons ago.

While Kewell is relishing the chance to wear his lucky number seven shirt, Smicer sees the Australian's arrival as an opportunity for a fresh start this year as he dons the number 11 shirt.

"Gerard Houllier called me last week to ask me how I would feel about giving up the number seven shirt for Harry," Smicer told BBC Sport.

"I told him he was no problem and that I would happy to wear a different number.

"Though I'm not a particularly superstitious player - I wore the number 19 shirt when I was with Lens in France - it's true that the number seven has not brought me much luck.

"Maybe I will have a better season with this number 11 than I did last year with the number seven."

There has been speculation that Houllier would be willing to listen to offers for Smicer, but the Czech Republic international insisted the Liverpool manager had reassured him over his Anfield future.

"Gerard told me he was counting on me for next season. I know it's going to be difficult to get into the team, but it's been the same every year at Liverpool since I joined."

With Liverpool's pre-season training well underway, Smicer added that he hoped to have put his injury problems behind him.

"Whenever I found a good run of form I always seemed to pick up an injury.

"But hopefully I've put those problems behind me."


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