sport

Rodgers annoyed by scheduling

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is disappointed by the scheduling of Sunday's Premier League clash with Swansea at Anfield.

In this weekend's only top-flight fixture, the Reds face the Swans - who are in next Sunday's Capital One Cup final - having already played twice this week.

Rodgers' men lost 2-0 at home to West Brom in the Premier League on Monday evening and were then beaten by the same scoreline at Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie - the second leg of which is next Thursday.

Asked about the timing of the match against his former club Swansea, Rodgers said: "I was very disappointed with the Premier League to be honest.

"To put it in on a week when we have played on a Monday and played on a Thursday in an away trip to Russia, and put it in between that and another important European game on Thursday...I think it is another example of the Premier League in this country not helping teams whatsoever.

"I think every other country in Europe will always try to help their teams - some of them will play on a Friday before a European game.

"So for us to have it thrown in there when there were other free weeks was bemusing to say the least."

Liverpool have forward Daniel Sturridge and midfielder Philippe Coutinho back available for Sunday's game.

The pair return to the squad having both been ineligible for Thursday's match, with Rodgers confirming Sturridge - who has been nursing a thigh problem - is fit to play.

Coutinho, a January signing from Inter Milan, made his Reds debut as a substitute in the West Brom contest and asked if the Brazil international might be in line for his first Liverpool start this weekend, Rodgers said: "He is certainly in my thinking.

"He has come in and needed that little bit of time to adapt to the new way of working and new life, but you can see the kid's qualities.

"He has got good experience for a young player, so on Sunday we will have a look."

Daniel Agger, after criticising his own performance in the West Brom defeat on Twitter, did not travel to Russia but Rodgers has indicated the defender will be involved against Swansea and praised the contribution he has made since the start of the campaign.

"He has been outstanding this season - he has that real warrior spirit," Rodgers said.

"We have just had a little run of games where as a team - and for us, there is no blame on the individual - we haven't defended as well as what we had done.

"He is one of the top European centre-halves and we are very happy to have him here."

Rodgers feels the past four games - 2-2 league draws away against Arsenal and Manchester City, followed by the two 2-0 losses - have "typified" Liverpool's campaign.

Lying ninth in the Premier League, the Reds are currently 12 points behind fourth place with 12 games to go and their manager admits that after the West Brom result, while still theoretically possible, securing a Champions League berth this term is going to be "very, very difficult".

Rodgers believes more maturity is required in the Merseysiders' performances as they seek out some consistency.

But while his team might be a work a progress overall, the Northern Irishman has stressed his players are already giving him everything he could wish for with regard to their effort.

Rodgers said: "We may not be just good enough at the end of the day.

"We have some top players here and some world-class players, but it might not be this year for us that we can make that jump.

"But certainly, what we will do in every game is give everything and like we have seen in the last two games, in terms of the work rate, intensity and effort the players are putting in, I can't ask for any more."