sport

Rodgers salutes Reds spirit

Brendan Rodgers believes the strong leadership within the Liverpool squad will be crucial in the closing months of the season.

The Reds endured a frustrating transfer window, with Mohamed Salah heading to Chelsea instead of Merseyside, while another target Yevhen Konoplyanka failed to sign before Friday's deadline.

But Rodgers remains upbeat about his group of players, who thrashed derby rivals Everton 4-0 on Tuesday, and is delighted with the team spirit they have shown so far.

"If you look at the game the other night, (captain) Steven Gerrard was organising, dictating the game, ordering people about," he said.

"Martin Skrtel is really taking on board the leadership qualities and was outstanding, Kolo Toure is a natural leader and before the game, young Jon Flanagan was really vocal in the changing room. Luis Suarez is a natural leader and Jordan Henderson is coming out of his shell.

"It is a natural evolution of the team and the group and you see that character and personality starting to come into the team, which takes time.

"It is players understanding the kind of characteristics we are looking for and it is good to see.

"I think we have been challenged since I have been here, especially early on, about if we have enough character, if we can come back from losing positions, if we can fight, and I think we are seeing all those qualities now - and that will only improve as we grow together."

Liverpool head to West Brom on Sunday and will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last season's 3-0 defeat at The Hawthorns.

Rodgers feels the Reds have made big strides since that defeat, but seeks more from his players as they pursue a lofty Premier League finish.

"We've grown," he said.

"If I look back at my time here over the last 18 months, I look back at the first game we played against West Brom and where we were at then was we had some talented players, but we were very much a group of individuals.

"Over the course of 18 months, we've implemented a method to our play and we have become a team.

"We're understanding the game much better in terms of how we want to work and how we want to play.

"The important trait in any successful team is character, and we have got that in bucketloads.

"It's something that makes me very happy, but we've still got a way to go."