Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has dismissed the prospect of sending Fabio Borini out on loan, and instead backed the striker to make an impact at Anfield.
Borini, 22, struggled through an injury-hit first season on Merseyside after making a £10.5 million move from Roma in July 2012.
He made only five league starts last term as he was ruled out for three months from late September with a broken foot, then missed another two-and-a-half months with a dislocated shoulder sustained in mid-February.
The former Chelsea player had to wait until April to score his first league goal for the Reds, but impressed with Italy at the Under-21 European Championship in Israel this summer, scoring twice as they reached the final.
Borini has shown signs of rediscovering some club form too as he scored twice as an overage player for Liverpool’s Under-21 side in a 4-2 win over Manchester United last week.
However, his path to the first team is currently blocked by the in-form Daniel Sturridge, and competition for places is likely to get tougher should Luis Suarez remain at the club, with the Uruguay international, currently suspended, available again in late September.
Borini is hoping to get a chance to impress when Liverpool host Notts County in the Capital One Cup second round on Tuesday night, and Rodgers insists that the Italian is a key part of his squad.
Asked if Borini might go out on loan, the Reds boss said: “Not at this moment. I think there would be a few clubs wanting to take him if he was available.
“But we want to keep a strong group. It’s a very long season for us. We’ve got Daniel, we’ve got Fabio and we’ve got Iago Aspas, and obviously we’ve got Luis to come back in a number of weeks.
“We want to make sure the competition in the group is there. It’s about keeping the players here, especially at that top end of the field, where it’s good to have a goalscorer.
“Fabio will be in the squad against Notts County. He’s working tirelessly. He never really got the goals that his hard work merited over the course of pre-season.
“Obviously, a lot of the other players had scored and assisted in pre-season. But you see his hunger. He’s still a young player. He played last week in the reserves against Manchester United and was outstanding in his performance.
“He’s working very, very hard to get into the team and make an impact.”
Rodgers has been linked with moves for Chelsea winger Victor Moses and Sporting Lisbon centre-back Tiago Ilori in recent days as he looks to strengthen his squad before next Monday’s transfer deadline.
The Liverpool manager would not be drawn on specific targets, but is hopeful of making further signings in the next week.
Asked specifically about Moses, Rodgers said: “We’ve got targets. There’s speculation around many names over the course of the summer. For us, while the window’s still open, we’ll continue to look to improve the squad and we hope we’ll come out the back of it with a stronger group.
“The players I’ve got at the moment have been doing brilliantly. I’ve every faith that, even if we didn’t get any more in, these players will do really well for us this season. But the idea for us is to strengthen it that little bit more, and we hope we can do that.”