Martin Kelly is targeting more minutes over Liverpool's hectic festive period - and the full-back insists he's returning to full strength following a long injury lay-off.

Kelly last started a Barclays Premier League game on September 23, 2012, the day he sustained an anterior cruciate ligament rupture against Manchester United.

The full-back returned from injury against the Red Devils at Old Trafford earlier this season - and has since gone on to make three substitute appearances for the Reds.

After coming on as a late addition during the 4-1 win over West Ham at the weekend, Kelly supplemented his fitness push with a 45-minute run-out for the U21s against Bolton on Monday.

Now he's determined to force his way back into contention and earn a place in Brendan Rodgers' plans for the forthcoming first-team fixtures.

"It was a good chance for me to get some minutes against West Ham," Kelly told the Liverpool Echo.

"I'm feeling a lot sharper. I've been doing some additional training over the past few weeks and I'm ready to push on.

"It has taken longer than I hoped to get back to this level but that's been brought on by us not being in the Europa League or having much of a run in the League Cup.

"It's been difficult to get game time as the manager has to pick his best XI to start every game.

"I was just made up to get on against West Ham and now I need to keep progressing. I've been working hard and I feel a lot fitter than back in pre-season.

"I don't think there's been a mental barrier to get through as such, it's more about not feeling as sharp as I wanted.


"Ask anyone who has had a long-term injury and they'll tell you it's tough to get back to that level you were at before the injury.

"It takes time and it comes back slowly. Now I'm back nearly to peak fitness and I'm ready to go."

Kelly came on at left-back during the win over the Hammers before featuring at right-back during the U21s' 3-2 defeat to Bolton.

Most of his 57 appearances for the first team have come in the full-back berth, but he's committed to playing anywhere across the back-line, so long as he can get minutes under his belt.

"I am happy playing anywhere across the back four for Liverpool," he added. "I'll just concentrate on my own fitness and do all the extra work I can.

"It's a case of biding my time, being patient and making sure that when the manager gives me another opportunity I am ready to take it."

Up next for Rodgers' charges is a tough trip to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham.

Spurs currently sit sixth in the league table; however, Andre Villas Boas' outfit are just three points behind the Reds, who occupy second place.

"It's a big one next weekend and we're all concentrating on that," said Kelly. "It will be a test of the squad, but we have got the depth to cope with that. Everyone is competing for places and there is healthy competition.

"The spirit is good. The Christmas period will test our character but we definitely have the mental strength to get through it."