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Rodgers will look to strengthen in defence

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has indicated that he will need to sign central defensive reinforcements this summer to fill the gap left by Jamie Carragher's retirement.

Carragher is set to return to the defence for Sunday's Premier League trip to Aston Villa after missing the 3-1 defeat at Southampton on March 16 with a shin problem.

Rodgers said that the 35-year-old was missed at St Mary's, and that he will be a big loss to the squad when he finishes playing at the end of the season.

Carragher announced in February that he would be bringing his 16-year Anfield first-team career to an end in May.

And although Rodgers is keen to talk up the qualities of fellow centre-backs Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel, he has acknowledged that new signings will be needed. The Liverpool manager has refused to discuss transfer targets publicly, but has been linked heavily with a raid on his former club Swansea for Ashley Williams.

Rodgers said: "I think we're going to be light in that area, so between now and the end of the season, we have to assess things. That's the one area of the field where we haven't brought anyone in. We've brought in midfield players and front players, but as of yet, there's been no one in that area of the field.

"We're going to lose Jamie, which is a big loss. There's no player who is irreplaceable, but he's a big loss, because you see his experience and how he leads the line. And when you're playing as a defender, you need someone in there who is vocal and can organise the line. He does that remarkably well.

"But I've also got really good players here in Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel. But between now and the end of the season, we know we need to strengthen the group, and that's something we'll look at doing."

Former England international Carragher, who is Liverpool's vice-captain, has been as valuable for his leadership skills as his defensive qualities. And Rodgers is aware that he needs someone who is a good talker and organiser as well as a top-class defender.

He added: "If it's not something we've got in the group, we may need that type of character who can organise and lead. That's something we've have a look at. But there's no doubt he'll be a miss and I will miss him, because he's a good man, he's a lover of football and he puts everything into his training every single day.

"He's a real role model for all the players. But, listen, he's got eight games left, so let's not write him off yet. He's still fit and strong. We missed his leadership qualities at Southampton, and he'll come back into the squad."

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