independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Rodgers defends team changes

Brendan Rodgers admits that he is tinkering with his side to find fresh combinations that work

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he is tinkering with players' roles in an attempt to get more goals out of the team until he can strengthen in January.

In recent weeks the experiment of pushing full-back Jose Enrique further forward has been a qualified success. But an injury to teenager Andre Wisdom has seen Glen Johnson revert to his more right-sided role and winger Stewart Downing come in as cover on the left of defence with less success. The decision to drop the England international, who cannot get into the team in his preferred role, back into defence has been questioned by critics.

"Sometimes that can take the pressure off," said the Reds boss. "In the modern-day game the full-backs are very much offensive players, although they have to defend."

He added: "It is not a position which is new to him and he gets forward and serves the ball well from it. I would never put a player in a position where it doesn't benefit the team and that he doesn't want to play in because there is no reward for that.

"He is comfortable playing in it and it means Jose Enrique doesn't have to cover the whole pitch."

Finding the net has been Liverpool's problem all season, as despite striker Luis Suarez leading the Premier League with 10, the club's next joint-highest scorer is Steven Gerrard and own goals (both with just two).

That is in spite of some promising displays, including that at Tottenham which saw them dominate for long periods without reward. Defeat dropped the Reds further adrift of their main rivals and Rodgers knows there will come a time when results have to start matching performances.

"My job here is to gain results while developing a way and philosophy at the club," he added. "As we move forward that model will become richer with the quality of the game and with the quality of the players we can develop and improve here, as well as maybe one or two signings."

One of the signings Liverpool are keen to make is that of Raheem Sterling's first professional contract. The forward turns 18 next month but Rodgers dismissed reports expressing concern he had not yet been tied down to a new deal.

"Raheem's (contract) has been ongoing really," said the Northern Irishman, who stressed earlier this month he did not anticipate any problems with the deal going ahead. "The club and his representatives are in good dialogue and communication and hopefully we will get that resolved very soon, but there is no timescale."

Press Association

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