Reds boss Brendan Rodgers believes that a stronger group of players, with more additions to follow during the transfer window, can set Liverpool up for a Champions League assault in 2013-14.

The Northern Irishman was in relaxed and confident mood as his squad prepare to kick off their Barclays Premier League campaign, his second at the helm, at home to Stoke City on Saturday.

Rodgers considers the options at his disposal to have significantly strengthened in comparison to last summer but explained that he has not finished his transfer business either.

"In every way the group is stronger and we still hope to add one or two more before the window closes," the boss told reporters on Thursday.

"There are a number of players we've been linked with but nothing imminent.

"We've got players to come back, we'll add players before the window closes, so the momentum over pre-season has been good.

"Everyone has adapted now to our way of working, and there's a lot more stability around the club.

"I believe we'll be ready to put up a good challenge or, as I said earlier in pre-season, be in the conversation this year.

"The aim over pre-season was to ensure we had enough change within the team. There may be certain games and certain venues where we need to adapt and change.

"We did that last year a number of times but we never really had the depth to do it on a regular basis. This year that will allow me to do that a bit more, look at each game and pick a team accordingly to get the result.

"Especially at home, last year we drew too many games that we wanted to win and should have won. Hopefully that introduction of more players into the group will give us a chance.

"You can never be overconfident, there's always a worry sometimes if the pre-season is too good; you win all your games and make no mistakes.

"The most important phase is the competition phase. What we've done is been able to build some really good foundations for us and continue on from where we left off last season.

"That momentum has been maintained. I sense a real positivity around the group, a really good feeling around; nothing will detract from that."

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Asked if Champions League qualification is the target for Liverpool this season, Rodgers accepted that a top-four berth is the minimum that any Reds manager should set as an objective.

He continued: "It's the measure for here; it will always be for any manager here. The measure is always the Champions League.

"I believe we can have a real push this year.

"It's going to be very tough, even tougher if you look at the clubs that are already in there and have been there for a number of years that have reinforced their group.

"It's going to be a very tough ask - but I believe, with the mentality and focus in our group, we'll be in with a chance this year."

The Reds were victorious in each of their first six pre-season fixtures before an undeserved defeat by Celtic in Dublin last weekend. That result will not knock the Reds off course, however.

"The Celtic game was good for us in terms of what pre-season was about, for our fitness. We're coming off the back of a really long pre-season," said Rodgers.

"We made a mistake in the game which obviously cost us the result. In terms of the aims and objectives of pre-season, we've more than achieved them.

"So as we go into Stoke I'm very happy with how we've worked. The game last weekend was a terrific occasion.

"Performance-wise, in terms of creation of chances, I was pleased. Of course, in terms of the result we lost the game but it wasn't a concern.

"We've been around the world in pre-season, the players and all the staff at the club have worked tirelessly.

"But it's about the competition now and obviously the competition starts this weekend. We're really looking forward to it.

"I've got nothing but high regard for how they have acquitted themselves through what for some might have been a difficult period. They come out of it with full credit and now we're prepared and ready to go."

Rodgers presided over a home draw and an away loss against the Potters in 2012-13, but Saturday's opponents have changed their manager since their last meeting with the Reds - with Mark Hughes the new boss.

The 40-year-old said: "It always takes a wee bit of time for a new manager to come in. I can't talk about Stoke without paying huge credit to Tony Pulis.

"To make them a sustainable club in the Premier League must be like winning the league, because they have done an absolutely amazing job.

"They feel they need to go on and take a different direction. They've decided to take in Mark, who is an excellent manager. Mark has a way of working that he likes and he's been successful with that.

"I'm sure he will get his ideas across; they are a very committed group of players there and some excellent players.

"We know, especially after the game at home last year when it was 0-0, it will be a tough game."

Journalists gathered at Melwood were keen to question the manager on the latest developments regarding Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez.

"It's very simple. There has been so much written about Luis and said over the last few months," he said.

"From our perspective, there has been a standpoint within the club and myself, and that hasn't changed.

"What I want to concentrate on is the players that are available for this weekend, so I won't be speaking any more about Luis Suarez until he's available.

"The players have been working ever so hard, focus and concentration over the last few months, in order for this game. Out of respect for them, I want to only speak about them. I don't want to answer any more on Luis Suarez.

"There's nothing to be said that hasn't already been said. It's great for you guys but I'm sure people are fed up listening and reading about it.

"My only concentration is the players that are available. I have to say, from the first day that we came back they have had a really hard pre-season and worked tirelessly.

"Purely just out of respect to them and the work that has been going on, I only want to talk about them."