Football: Rodgers demands better Liverpool defence against Hull

Football: Rodgers demands better Liverpool defence against Hull
Liverpool's head coach Brendan Rodgers (L) speaks with Liverpool's forward Daniel Sturridge during a training session.

LIVERPOOL - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wants to see an all-round improvement in his side's defending when they face Hull City in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds have only managed to keep one clean sheet so far this season - a 3-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur at the end of August.

Rodgers signed centre-back Dejan Lovren from Southampton, left-back Alberto Moreno from Sevilla and brought in right-back Javier Manquillo on loan from Atletico Madrid during pre-season.

But with 19 goals conceded in 12 matches in all competitions so far this term, Rodgers said a collective effort from all his players was required to help Liverpool tighten up at the back.

"It needs to be better, that's for sure - as a team, not just the defence and goalkeeper," Rodgers said.

"As a team we need to be better. We all pride ourselves on clean sheets but we need to more competitive and aggressive in those moments as a team." Wednesday saw Liverpool beaten 3-0 at home by Real Madrid in the Champions League, with the holders' three goals all coming before half-time.

"That was the disappointment against Real Madrid and also in the goals we've conceded, as a large number of them have been soft," Rodgers said.

"It's our job to improve our record and it's something we'll continue to work on," the Northern Irishman added.

"We need to reinforce key principles in that organisation and then it's you as a player on the field showing that competitive spirit.

"The great competitors don't get done so easily in those situations and that's something we need to improve upon." Liverpool remain without England striker Daniel Sturridge, who is continuing his rehabilitation from a calf problem.

French centre-back Mamadou Sakho will miss out a thigh injury while Spanish midfielder Suso (groin) and defender Jon Flanagan (knee) are long-term absentees.

Rodgers must decide whether to start with Italy striker Mario Balotelli, who was substituted at half-time on Wednesday, having controversially swapped shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe.

Sterling switch

Raheem Sterling could play in a more central role again after Rodgers utilised the England international in an advanced position during the second half against Real.

"It was just something that I felt could help us in the game, his mobility and speed along the line is there whether he plays from the side or the front role," Rodgers explained.

"If we feel it helps the team in order to get results then it's something that I can look at." Hull travel to Anfield buoyed by an encouraging 2-2 draw at Arsenal last Saturday but the Tigers will be without several key players due to injury.

Striker Nikica Jelavic and defender Michael Dawson are both out for at least a month, with respective knee and ankle injuries while goalkeeper Steve Harper will be on the sidelines for three weeks after suffering a torn bicep.

With first-choice goalkeeper Allan McGregor also likely to miss out with a shoulder problem, Eldin Jakupovic is set to make only his third Premier League appearance.

Hull cannot use the emergency loan system, so youth team keeper Rory Watson is in line to be on the bench.

Hull spent close to £40 million (S$82 million) in the last transfer window and manager Steve Bruce is confident he has the squad depth to cope with any absentees from his first-choice side.

"It's a huge blow to lose players with their experience and quality but it's one of the reasons we did a lot of recruiting in the summer," Bruce said.

"We've got a big squad now and I'm sure it's good enough to cope."

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