Brendan Rodgers says that people who criticise his Liverpool side’s defending are “lazy”.
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The Reds are looking to maintain their Premier League title push when they host Sunderland on Wednesday night. Rodgers’ team maintained their position as the division’s leading scorers with a thrilling 6-3 victory at Cardiff on Saturday.
That took their league goal tally for the campaign to 82, and kept them second in the table, four points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand. But Liverpool’s back line has been questioned repeatedly this season -- with the manager trying more than 20 different defensive combinations this season as part of his bid to find some solidity.
They have conceded 38 league goals this season, more than any other side in the top four.
Rodgers has struggled to replace adequately the experience, organisation skills and leadership qualities of former vice-captain Jamie Carragher, who retired at the end of last season. But he insists that any claims that his side give away goals too easily are wide of the mark.
The manager said: “It’s easy for people to label us as a team who concede cheap goals. It’s lazy. When I arrived, the accusation was that we didn’t score enough goals. Now it’s that we concede too many, or the squad is too small.”
Rodgers has played down Liverpool’s title chances all season, and continues to do so even though they are contenders to by English champions for the first time since 1990. But he does believe that his team are on course to win the league in the future, if not this season.
He said: “We’re just really enjoying our football. We’ve got a hell of a long way to go, but we’re certainly making strides. It may or may not be this year but there’s no doubt we’re on the right road.”
Rodgers has indicated that any talks over a new contract for striker Daniel Sturridge will have to wait until the end of the season. Reports have suggested that Sturridge will be offered an improved deal to bring his salary closer to that earned by strike partner Luis Suarez.
Uruguay international Suarez earns 200,000 pounds a week after signing a contract extension through to 2018 in December. Sources have told ESPN that Sturridge currently earns around 70,000 pounds a week.
Rodgers said: “There will be no contracts discussed until the summer.”
The manager also indicated that he would look to sort out Fabio Borini’s future at the end of the season. The striker has scored six goals in 31 appearances for relegation-threatened Sunderland, three of which came in the Capital One Cup as they reached the final, and another two came in home-and-away league derby victories over Newcastle.
Borini will not be involved for the Black Cats on Wednesday, as he is ineligible to face his parent club under Premier League rules.
Rodgers said: “Borini went out on loan to get games. The goals he’s scored shows his quality. He’ll be back in the summer and we’ll review things from there.”