sport

Rodgers counting the bodies

Brendan Rodgers has challenged his injury-hit Liverpool squad to stand up to the challenge of two tough away games over the festive period.

Liverpool sit top of the table at Christmas, but face Manchester City on Boxing Day before travelling to Stamford Bridge at the weekend in what is sure to be a big test of their title credentials.

Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge are still unavailable for Rodgers, who is also waiting on the fitness of Jon Flanagan ahead of Thursday's trip to the Etihad after he limped out of the win over Cardiff with a hamstring injury.

"The squad is very thin at the moment," said Rodgers. "We only have 17 players available, which is unfortunate in a very busy period, and we have to assess Jon Flanagan. We're quite thin on the ground at the moment.

"But these games are opportunities for us. We're not going to cry about it. We have what we have. It's an opportunity for me to bring some youth team players into the squad. That's why you have an academy.

"Young players have to feel that when the opportunities come they are going to get the chance and we've done that quite a lot in the last 18 months."

Meanwhile, Rodgers agrees with Gerrard's assertion that Luis Suarez is currently the best player in the world.

"This is the most competitive league in world football and when you have a player performing at the level that he is, I don't think many would argue with that," he added.

"He's been phenomenal in his performance and I don't think there is anyone else in the world performing consistently at this level.

"But all the senior players have stood up and been counted. They've been professional and honest and when we've made mistakes, I know the players are making honest mistakes and one thing we've always done is bounce back."