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'Pool have mentality – Rodgers

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Brendan Rodgers. Picture credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Brendan Rodgers. Picture credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Brendan Rodgers. Picture credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

LIVERPOOL midfielder Jordan Henderson (inset) credits manager Brendan Rodgers with channelling his relentless enthusiasm into something more constructive.

The England international is a key component in the Reds' pressing game and his high-energy running has become something of a trademark this season.

As he prepares to face former club Sunderland at Anfield the 23-year-old illustrated why he is a completely different player from the one who arrived from the Stadium of Light in 2011 after Rodgers changed his approach to merely just running around.

"It's about using that in the right way," Henderson said. "I feel as though in the past maybe I haven't used it how I should have but the manager has helped me do that.

"I think I've improved tactically and it's really helped channel my energy into the right direction.

"I've always been pretty fit and wanting to close and chase down but I think you've got to pick your moments and the time to do that. It's no good just running all over the shop and being out of position, which maybe a few years ago, when I look back, I was probably doing that. That's just enthusiasm, energy and wanting to do the right things.

"The manager has really helped me to channel that and focus on certain things. It's really helped."

Six successive league wins have put Liverpool in the title race just behind leaders Chelsea.

Having twice come from behind to beat lowly Cardiff 6-3 at the weekend Rodgers is wary of the threat another struggling side in Sunderland will pose.

"Sunderland have picked up more points away from home than they have at home," said the Reds boss.

"They have come off the back of a disappointing result at the weekend (losing at fellow strugglers Norwich) but they will come here with renewed motivation. We never take anything for granted. We prepare and analyse for this game as any other.

"Gus (Poyet) has done very well since he went into Sunderland as it was a difficult gig for him.

"He got to a (League) cup final and they have shown against the big teams they can be a problem.

"He has shown he has great qualities as a manager. He will be fighting to keep them in the league."

Rodgers insists his high-flying side have the mental fortitude to stay in the title race as they do not underestimate any opponent.

While much is being made of the significance of next month's visits of Chelsea and Manchester City, their two main rivals, there are games to be won before that.

The Sunderland match is followed by games against Tottenham and West Ham before the first of their two mouth-watering home clashes, when City come to Anfield.

Having twice gone behind at second-bottom Cardiff on the way to their 6-3 victory last weekend, Liverpool's next three opponents may sense they have a chance to upset the Reds' run in.

But Rodgers is confident his players are in great mental shape and have the character to withstand the pressures in the final eight games.

STRENGTH

"Every team that comes through and wins (the title) have to be in that situation at some stage," he said.

"If you go back 10 years or so, Chelsea hadn't won the league for 50 years when they eventually did win.

"People may have questioned whether they had the mental strength to win it, but, when you do win it, no one then questions it. I only need to look at the squad and we certainly have the strength of character and we have shown that."


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