Football: Rodgers demands upturn in Liverpool home form

LIVERPOOL - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers challenged his players to turn Anfield into a fortress after another disappointing home display saw his side draw 1-1 with promoted Norwich City.

A second-half goal by Danny Ings put Rodgers' team on course for their first victory in five games on Sunday, only for poor defending to gift Norwich an equaliser and equally bad finishing to leave Liverpool with just four goals from their opening six Premier League matches.

Following a narrow win over Bournemouth and an embarrassing 3-0 loss to West Ham United, Liverpool have patently been under-performing on their own territory this season.

But Rodgers is confident that there are signs of a recovery ahead of a sequence that sees his team play at Anfield against Carlisle United in the League Cup, Aston Villa in the league and FC Sion in the Europa League over the next 10 days.

"On the back of the last home performance (against West Ham), there was a bit of anxiety in the first half," said Rodgers.

"But I always say the biggest thing about playing for Liverpool is the beauty of playing at Anfield.

"You have to have courage and bravery to play here. You have to embrace it, make sure you take the risks, embrace the risks and play positive football.

"It was the same when I first came in here and there was a bit of anxiety about the place. We built a real fortress for ourselves, but unfortunately we have to build that again and focus on being positive at home.

"We showed that in the second half. Hopefully the confidence will grow with results.

"It's normal for players, the expectation around Liverpool, everything that comes with that. If you're winning games and playing well, then of course confidence is going to be far higher than it might be now.

"We have to build that confidence, through our training, through the games. It's just step by step."

Martin's bedside dash

Rodgers was at least able to welcome back striker Daniel Sturridge after nearly six months out of his line-up following hip surgery, although he only lasted just over an hour before being taken off as a precaution.

"I felt it was important to get him on the field," said Rodgers.

"I thought he did well for the hour he played, but he is still way off full fitness. It's just about games and building fitness for him. There is no pressure on him to do that." Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet endured a difficult afternoon, with poor kicking and a hand in Norwich's goal, but Rodgers defended the Belgian when asked whether deputy Adam Bogdan was putting him under pressure for his place.

"There were other factors in the goal we conceded," said Rodgers.

"But every keeper you bring in, he is there to challenge the (first-choice) keeper. I did it before - if I feel I need to make a change, whether a goalkeeper or outfield player, I will do that." The equalising goal, from Norwich captain and defender Russell Martin, marked a particularly memorable day for the player, who had left his team-mates on Merseyside on the eve of the game to attend the birth of his son.

"He got the call late last night, about 11pm (2200 GMT), that his wife was having contractions and that he needed to make his way down there," explained manager Alex Neil.

"He made his way down there and the baby was delivered at 10am. He was on the first flight back up with the directors, then put in a real captain's performance for us. That shows his dedication to the team." Neil added: "The biggest thing I'm trying to change is the mentality of the team - the fact that when we go to a big club like this, we've got to believe we can win the game - and I think we're getting there."