English Premiership

Reds look to maintain charge

2015-03-03 08:41
Brendan Rodgers (AFP)

Liverpool - Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool's return to form in the league has coincided with Philippe Coutinho's progression as a key player at Anfield.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight domestic matches and have put themselves back in the hunt for a Champions League spot as they prepare to face Burnley on Wednesday.

Brazilian Coutinho has played a prominent role as the Reds have improved and has scored twice in his last two appearances - victories over top-four rivals Southampton and Manchester City.

Rodgers believes the 22-year-old will be a contender for player of the season.

"He's certainly going to be up there, there's no doubt about that," Rodgers said. "He's played very well.

"That period of the season where the team suffered at the beginning of the season, it was our lack of penetration at the top of the field.

"He's the player that thrives on that - he's normally the player that makes the last pass to those guys running in to score the goals.

"We didn't quite have that in the opening months, and obviously he suffered because he had to stay longer on the ball and wasn't as effective.

"Now, the dynamics in the team are very good - the pressing and movement off the ball - and that allows him and his technical quality to really shine. He's started to add goals to his game and has scored some fantastic goals.

"Very importantly, he is contributing to the team and for him there are still improvements to make with him being so young."

Liverpool will again be without Jordan Ibe and Steven Gerrard. Ibe has been ruled out for several weeks with a knee injury, while Gerrard has been out since February 10 with a hamstring strain.

Burnley are without a win in their last seven matches but Rodgers says Liverpool will not underestimate their opponents.

"Sean (Burnley manager Dyche) has got them very well organised, they have great motivation when they play, great commitment to try and stay in the league and they're fighting. They're a team we're wary of.

"They've given absolutely everything and I'm sure Sean will be up there as one of the candidates for manager of the year, irrespective of what happens."

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