Kostas Tsimikas recognises the challenge he faces in competing with Andy Robertson for a berth in Liverpool’s starting line-up, but insists he’s feeling good heading into 2021-22 as he targets more minutes on the pitch.

The full-back’s first season at Anfield following his transfer from Olympiacos last summer was disrupted by illness and injury, restricting him to seven appearances.

However, Tsimikas is among the 34-man squad that has begun pre-season training at the Reds’ base in Salzburg this week – and he’s confident he can make a greater impact in his second term with the club.

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The Greece international told Liverpoolfc.com: “I am very happy to be back with the boys, everything is very good. Training is really hard and really intense, but this will help us a lot for the next games. We start with friendly games and we continue working very hard together.

“The first six months were very difficult for me because I had COVID and two injuries, but the second half of the year was very good and I trained very hard in coming back from the injuries. Now I am more ready and in good shape to give everything for the team and help them to achieve our goals.

“I know I have to challenge the best left-back in the world. This gives me the power to do my work well every day, to continue working hard and to continue to be as good as I can.

“My target for next season is to stay healthy, first of all, and after to play more games and help my team.”

Liverpool began training at their Austrian base on Monday afternoon as they prepare for a series of friendly matches.

Tsimikas has been impressed by the quality and intensity on display in the sessions so far.

“It’s very, very good – all the boys came in very good condition,” he noted. “Everybody is giving absolutely everything and this helps a lot to keep it up and continue working hard.

“If I look at the training we have done, I am very excited. I want to start this season. We have a lot of things to improve and to solve, but I think the team will be ready to give everything and achieve our goals.”

Among those training are Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who joined in with their teammates for the first time in several months following injury on Tuesday morning.

“We are very happy for these two boys,” said Tsimikas. “They are looking very good after their injuries and I hope for the best for them.

“I hope those injuries will be their last and the team needs them a lot. Hopefully they will bounce back again.”