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May 10, 2014

Rodgers: We've recovered after Palace

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hinted at defensive signings in the transfer window after his side let a 3-0 lead slip against Crystal Palace.

Brendan Rodgers insists the spirit in the Liverpool camp has been "excellent" ahead of Sunday's clash with Newcastle, despite the hammer blow of the 3-3 draw at Crystal Palace.

Liverpool have amassed 20 more points than their total last season.
Liverpool's title hopes have faded after a shock comeback by Crystal Palace on Monday.

• Kelly: Rewriting the title race
• Usher: Collapse talk misguided

Monday's contest at Selhurst Park, in which the Merseysiders were held after leading 3-0 with a little more than 10 minutes to go, has left their Premier League title hopes hanging by a thread.

If they are to emerge from Sunday's top-flight finale as champions, they will need to beat the Magpies at home and hope West Ham win at leaders Manchester City, who are two points clear of the second-placed Reds with a vastly superior goal difference.

Rodgers' men had looked destined to claim a first league title for the club in 24 years not long ago, and their devastation was clear after the final whistle on Monday.

But while the Anfield manager is keen for there to be lessons taken from such painful experiences, Rodgers has also emphasised the importance of not dwelling on what might have been and continuing to look forward.

Asked at his pregame news conference how the spirit had been since the Palace match, Rodgers -- who is adamant the title race is not over -- said: "It has been excellent.

"You could see the emotion after the game and that was pretty much the same in the dressing room afterwards. But we know the areas we need to improve.

"We won't dwell on it. You can't think about what might or could have happened, you can only really focus on what has happened and look forward to getting better and improving.''

Rodgers feels his players should be congratulated for their efforts in a "remarkable'' campaign -- regardless of where they finish on Sunday -- which has seen them improve significantly on their seventh-place final position from his first season in charge in 2012-13.

With a guaranteed top-three spot this time, they have secured automatic entry to next term's Champions League group stages, scoring 99 goals in the process.

However, the Northern Irishman is in no doubt that his defence is an area of concern, particularly in away matches, with the team conceding 32 times on their travels in the league.

Rodgers has stressed his confidence Liverpool will be stronger next season, despite the additional commitment of the European games, and the indications are that there could be new defenders recruited over the summer.

The 41-year-old, whose side have not played in Europe this term, said: "I've watched it [the Palace match] three times since and I'm still in shock when I see us end up drawing the game 3-3.

"To have that much control and good concentration and organisation in the game, for it to slip with 12 minutes to go shouldn't happen.

"If you can't keep your concentration long enough, you'll lose your place. It's as simple as that -- you'll lose your place in the squad.

"We've played in big games this season and showed real solidity defensively: but we went away to Cardiff and yes, we scored six goals, but we conceded three; went away to Stoke, scored five and conceded three; Palace three; Hull three.

"Yes, there's an element of quality from the opponent, but I look at and analyse the games intensely and a big part of it is concentration -- organisation, concentrating on your job.

"But our work is continual. We will really focus on that part of our game over the course of preseason. Like I said when I came in, we had to improve our goals tally, so we went from 47 scored in a season (2011-12) to now 99 and whatever it finishes at this weekend -- and we'll do the same with the defence.''

Liverpool will have Jordan Henderson available again for Sunday's match after the midfielder missed the last three games due to suspension after being sent off in the 3-2 win over Manchester City.

The conclusion of the ban means that, other than long-term knee injury victim Jose Enrique, Rodgers has a full squad to choose from.

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