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Jan 28, 2013

Rodgers: Young players failed at Oldham

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted his young players failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to impress following the club's surprise FA Cup exit to Oldham Athletic.

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The Reds suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of their struggling League One opponents on Sunday, as Rodgers opted to blend youth with experience, handing starts to Andre Wisdom, Jack Robinson and Fabio Borini.

Oldham took a 2-1 lead into the break after a lacklustre opening period from the visitors and Rodgers expressed his disappointment at the attitude of his youngsters.

"We are bitterly disappointed. We started the first half poorly and we started the second half and got punished," Rodgers said. "We've got a big week of games but our mentality in that opening period was poor and it ended up costing us. I was disappointed with the young players today I've got to be honest.

"We are trying to give them experience and let them see what it was like to play for Liverpool. It is not just about playing for Liverpool, you have to be competitive and be part of a group that is going to challenge for trophies.

"I thought how we reacted to that and how we performed, knowing that is what we are looking for, was disappointing.

"It is not enough to play for Liverpool and get up for the Arsenal and Manchester City games [later this week] because if we are going to win trophies you need to be able to come to places like Oldham and win and we weren't good enough for that."

Oldham gave the home fans something to cheer about early on when Matt Smith grabbed the opener after just three minutes and the relentless pressure by Paul Dickov's side ensured Liverpool were always chasing a result.

"We were just too much on the back foot early on, you really have to be aggressive," the Rodgers said. "These are different games to the Premier League: Premier League games are nice, you go in and teams will pass the ball and give you time to get your shape.

"These games are a different type of football, you have to roll your sleeves up be strong and aggressive and unfortunately for us there were too many who weren't.

"It is just a different type of football where you have to stand up and be counted. It is great to put young players in but you have to have personality and the young players disappointed."

Rodgers was forced to defend his decision to make six changes to his squad with concerns that resting Steven Gerrard was a sign that he was more focused on the upcoming Premier League fixtures.

"It is not complacency. We haven't enough depth," he said. "We have three tough games this week and we put out a team we thought could get the result. This is a trophy we really put our focus on to hopefully go far in and it is a competition we are out of so we are all disappointed.

"I can't rely on Steven for 70 games. He has been absolutely incredible. He shouldn't be expected to come and win games on his own. He came on and gave a real impetus to the team and his quality was there to be seen.

"Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing come on and it is a different game and for 35 minutes we were terrific but it is too late then because we are 3-1 down then. It wasn't good enough."

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