Rising star: Reds youngster eyes defining season

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Jay Spearing is on a mission to ensure he is in the Liverpool line-up to face Sunderland for the 2011-12 Barclays Premier League season opener on August 13.

Having made the breakthrough in Kenny Dalglish's first team last season, Spearing started all of the last nine league games to end the campaign on a high.

His impressive form was rewarded by the offer of a new contract, keeping the England Under 21 international at Anfield until June 2014.

However, with the arrival of new boys Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam, twinned with the imminent return to fitness of Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, Spearing knows he will have his work cut out in holding down the starting berth he had become accustomed to last year.

"I've got more competition to fight against now but that doesn't bother me," he said. "When you are at a club of this stature you know that in the transfer window they are going to spend money on buying top class players.

"I'm delighted with the signings we've made. Adding Adam and Henderson to the squad is a massive improvement for us. They are both great players."

Spearing has come on leaps and bounds under the stewardship of Dalglish, but the former Liverpool reserve team captain may now have to be patient and bide his time if, as expected he falls down the pecking order behind the recent acquisitions.

But the challenge that lies ahead has made Spearing more determined than ever, to fight for his place in the face of increased competition for places at Anfield.

"From a personal point of view, I wouldn't say them coming in puts extra pressure on me but it makes me fight more," he continued. "I know I need to step up again and prove I can play alongside them or in front of them."

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Jay Spearing

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