Injuries have punctuated the career of Slovak international centre-back Martin Skrtel since his arrival at Anfield in January 2008. First it was a knee injury that sidelined him for three months during the 2008-09 campaign. The following season saw him back in the treatment room, but he regained fitness in time for Slovakia’s first ever World Cup in South Africa, where he featured in every game before a last 16 exit to Dirk Kuyt’s Holland. It was Rafael Benitez who had secured his signature – as defensive cover for Jamie Carragher, Sami Hyypia and Daniel Agger – in the face of stiff competition from a host of other European clubs, including Valencia, Everton and Spurs. He made his debut as a second half substitute against Aston Villa on January 21, 2008, and he went on to make 20 appearances at the tail end of that 2007-08 season. He played a key role in helping Liverpool to their best finish under Benitez, the Reds securing runners-up spot in the Premier League. The 6ft 4ins defender began his career with FC Previdza after choosing football over hockey. From there he enjoyed a spell with FC Trencin before moving to the Russian Premier League with FC Zenit in 2004. His performances there, during 113 games, led to international recognition.