Brendan Rodgers backs Fabio Borini
Fabio Borini will return to Liverpool a better player for his cup heroics with Sunderland, according to Brendan Rodgers.
The Italy striker has made a habit of scoring in big games since moving to the Stadium of Light on a season’s loan in September.
Borini has only scored six times in 28 appearances for the Black Cats -- but two of them were crucial goals in home and away derby victories over Newcastle.
And three more were high points of Sunderland’s Capital One Cup run, with Borini scoring last Sunday in the final at Wembley against Manchester City, who eventually came back to win 3-1.
Before that, the 22-year-old hit the late equaliser that forced extra-time en route to a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Chelsea, and a penalty that secured a 2-1 first-leg victory over Manchester United in the last four.
Borini had a difficult first season at Liverpool following a 10.5 million pounds move from Roma in 2012, missing three months from early October with a broken foot and then another two-and-a-half months after dislocating his shoulder in mid-February.
But Reds manager Rodgers believes a season of regular Premier League football has done the striker the world of good.
Rodgers told the Liverpool Echo: “Fabio has got games and scored some very important goals. He got the opportunity to play in a major final at Wembley. All that bodes well for the future.”
Borini is one of 12 senior Liverpool players currently out on loan, with most of them sent out to gather experience in order to boost their chances of a long-term future back at Anfield.
The one exception in that respect is goalkeeper Pepe Reina, with Serie A side Napoli for the season.
Rodgers has hinted that the Spain international, who is under contract until 2016, will be sold in the summer to free up extra money for the transfer budget.
But the other 10 players will have hope that -- like Borini -- they can persuade Rodgers of their first-team credentials.
Spanish striker Suso has scored twice during 24 appearances in Spain's Primera Liga for Almeria this season, while midfielder Conor Coady has helped League One side Sheffield United to an FA Cup quarterfinal against Charlton this Sunday.
In addition to Suso, a further two of those players have been loaned abroad -- Portugal under-21 centre-back Tiago Ilori is at Spanish Primera Liga side Granada, while Hungary under-21 midfielder Krisztian Adorjan is in the Dutch Eredivisie at Groningen.
Morocco international winger Oussama Assaidi is at Stoke, while four players are with Championship clubs -- wide man Jordon Ibe at Birmingham, Ryan McLaughlin at Barnsley, fellow right-back Andre Wisdom at Derby and left-back Jack Robinson at Blackpool -- and striker Michael Ngoo is at Walsall in League One.
Rodgers added: “Young Suso has had a terrific loan in Spain playing regular first-team football. He will come back and come into the squad in the summer and then we will assess where he's at.
“The loans have certainly been beneficial. There are different types of loans for different players. In particular for the young players it’s very important for them to gain that experience.
“It's good for us to put them into clubs who operate with a similar philosophy. That helps their development and hopefully brings them back ready to play pressurised football at a high level.
“We’ve got Andre Wisdom doing really well at Derby at the top end of the Championship and young Conor getting league experience at Sheffield United. He needed to go away and prepare himself to play every single week.”