Brendan Rodgers has revealed why Liverpool forward Fabio Borini will not be leaving the club on loan, provided the latest transfer news with a week remaining of the window and explained why he will pick a strong team to face Notts County.
The boss held a pre-match press conference at Melwood on Monday ahead of tomorrow's Capital One Cup encounter with the League One side - their first meeting in more than 20 years.
Reporters also quizzed the boss about his transfer targets, the goalscoring form of Daniel Sturridge and his future plans for the first player he signed as Reds manager, Italian striker Borini.
Read on for the full Q&A of the Northern Irishman's briefing while LFCTV Online subscribers can watch a video of the press conference on demand.
You can't underestimate the power of a good start - how important was that?
It was very important. It was a key objective for us over pre-season. We enforced the importance of starting quickly. We've had two excellent performances, two different types of performances but two really good results. It bodes well going forward.
Daniel Sturridge looks something else at the moment. He has to be part of the England squad this week, doesn't he?
I would think so. Roy Hodgson will, I'm sure, have noted his qualities. The frightening thing for Daniel is he still has a bit to go in terms of fitness. He has missed nearly all of pre-season, he has actually only come back in the last two weeks. He has been rehabilitating and working hard but he only joined the group in the last few weeks of pre-season. He's still getting up to speed yet. Once he's fully fit he will be even better. It's a mark of how hard he has worked in this short period of time. His goals to games record is incredible in the short period of time he has been here. We've taken all the pressure off him; it's just about him working hard and when he does that you see all his qualities. At the minute he's working very well.
How do you approach this game against Notts County with a big game against Manchester United at the weekend? Does that change your way of thinking?
Not really; our focus is to concentrate only on the next game. For us, it's Notts County. We will treat them with the same respect as we will to Manchester United. We want to do well in the cup competitions this year. You always want a home draw and we've got a home tie against a really historic club. Chris Kiwomya has gone in in his first job, having been temporary at the end of last season. He has picked up the baton this season. Even though they probably haven't made the ideal start - three losses and a draw - it's something that I'm sure he'll pick up because they've got some good players. We'll always respect every opponent we play no matter what division they're from. Our focus is really on ourselves to get the job done and get in the next round.
Will you utilise the whole squad? Premier League managers tend to in this competition...
It will be an opportunity for some players, who haven't featured, to get a game. The core of our team will very much be there. If there's an opportunity to recover one or two players that maybe had little niggles, we'll look at that. But we'll have a strong side out.
The transfer window remains open - have you still got targets?
We've got targets; there is speculation around many names over the summer. While the window is still open we'll continue to look to improve the squad. We'll hopefully come out of the back of it with a stronger group. The players we've got at the minute have been doing brilliantly. I've got every faith, even if we didn't get anyone in, that these players would do really well for us this season. But the idea is for us to strengthen that little bit more and hopefully we can do that.
How good can Daniel Sturridge be?
If you assess some of the world's great strikers - the pace and power they have, good touch, good in the air, two good feet, super quick - he possesses all of that. I hear people talk about him, I listen to radio shows and listen to people on TV - some people have mentioned about this difficult character. He's an absolutely wonderful boy, a terrific lad. He was a young player at some big clubs, knew he was a good player and wanted the chance to show that. When you're young you're always fighting for your position in the hierarchy within the group. He's probably been disappointed when he hasn't been able to play and play in a position that he's good at. Look at his record; when he went to Bolton with Owen Coyle, he played games and scored goals. This is a run that he's had here now and he's got goals and games. He still has areas to improve in his game but what we've done is release the pressure from him. All we demand is that he works his socks off. That's one of the core values at the football club - hard work. When he does that, all his natural talent comes out and when that comes out there's not too many better.
What have you done to relieve the pressure?
There's always pressure around goalscorers to score goals. Sometimes that can overshadow other contributions that they can make to the team. You saw Daniel at Aston Villa at the weekend, hunting and chasing back for the cause and the team. That's all we demand from him and it's just a case of reinforcing that the goals will come. Strikers are judged on goals in games. But there's also more than that, you've got be willing and you've got to be a worker for the team. That's something that has been reinforced to Daniel. Now he gets himself on the training field, he's working tirelessly every day and there's a bit of maturity there as well. He's just maturing as a young man, preparing himself well for games; he knows that when he does that, he steps onto the field and there's not too many can match all the tools he has.
Any injury news?
Martin Skrtel will hopefully be fit by the weekend. Martin returned to training with the team in the last couple of days. He's looking very strong at the moment, it's just too early to put him in. He'll need a bit longer in training with the team. He'll probably just miss out tomorrow but certainly should be ready by the weekend. There are no fresh injury worries.
How much of an aspiration is it for you to go all the way in the League Cup or FA Cup?
It's very much at the forefront of our mind in every competition this year. I made some mistakes last season in terms of changing the team. The group is more prepared in every way this time around than what we were last year. The cup competitions are important as well as our league campaign this year - we'll be giving absolutely everything to get as far as we can.
Is it a bit of a balancing act because the league is a priority?
The league is the No.1 priority but this is a club with a tradition that is based on cup competitions and trophies. We're better equipped now this year, everyone is in tune with what we're trying to do on the field. We'll do everything we can to go as far as we can in the competitions.
Notts County haven't won a league game yet but, as with all these teams that come to Anfield, you can expect an extra 80 per cent from somewhere...
Absolutely and I know some of the players there. Andre Boucaud was a young player for me when I was a youth coach at Reading many years ago. Andre was a player of great talent, on his day he can be a very good player. The young boy Adam Coombes, who plays up front, was a young player who came in from non-league when I was at Chelsea as a youth coach. They have got players there that have quality and talent. When it comes to Anfield, it's a game they want to cherish. So I'm sure it will be a tough game for us. With our focus and concentration at the moment, and the confidence that we have, we don't underestimate anyone - but it's our job to get into the next round and that's what we aim to do.
Without having European competition this season, can that be an advantage in your progress in other cup competitions?
We don't want to make any excuse for not being so good last year but certainly those games early on in the season impacted that because we had a very thin squad. We hope it's only going to be this year we're not in European competition - it's not something we want to be in the habit of. But certainly we've got three major competitions now to focus on and we know we can give our all in every single one of them. That will be the aim.
Do you feel your progress to achieve what you want to this season relies on the business you do in the next seven days?
It can really help us - that's the key point. If you look at our form over the last 15 games with mostly the players we have - and we have strengthened - we've won 10, drawn four and only lost one game. If we can continue on that route, and I believe we're getting better all the time, it's something that will really help us in our campaign this year. But there's no doubt we all have aspirations to improve the team. If we can do that with a few signings, that should really set us up for a really exciting season.
Does Fabio Borini have a chance to be involved tomorrow?
Fabio will be in the squad. He's working tirelessly. He never really got the goals that his hard work merited over the pre-season. A lot of the other players had scored and assisted. But you see his hunger, he's still a young player. He played last week in the reserves against Manchester United and was outstanding in his performance. He's working very hard to come into the team and make an impact. He's got a trademark free-kick - he hits the ball like some of the players such as Ronaldo do now - he puts that topspin on it. It was a terrific goal. The second goal is what I would say is Fabio - his speed to get to the ball, clever tactically with a pass back to the goalkeeper and he jumped in, a lovely first touch and a great finish. It's just a case of confidence with strikers and he showed great confidence in that game last week.
It's a big season for him and the competition is pretty intense...
The players get the chance every day - it's not just in the games. I'm someone who is very much on the training field, that's my natural environment. I'm there watching and observing, looking at everything with regards to performance and behaviour. They'll all get a chance. Obviously it's difficult if a team is winning, then the chances are limited. But you still have a chance every day to show your quality and enthusiasm and when the opportunity comes you've got to take it. For any player coming into here it takes a bit of time to adapt. There's no doubt he had a disruptive season last season with his injury and one or two other things that he would have wanted to be better. Fabio is a worker and a grafter, a good kid who wants to do really well. He has played at some big clubs - Chelsea and more so at Roma. I took him as a young player to Swansea on loan and he was the difference for us getting promoted when he came in in the February. He came in, scored goals and was a real threat. We brought him here not just for the now but the future as well. You saw in the U21 tournament with Italy he was a key player for them in reaching the final. We've got a very good young player, we just can't expect too much always from him. Some settle in quicker than others - for him, it's going to take that wee bit of time. I'm sure he'll come good.
Are you tempted to give him games on loan somewhere?
Not at this moment in time. There would be a queue of clubs wanting to take him if he was available. We want to keep a strong group - it's a very long season for us. You've got Daniel, Fabio, Aspas and Luis to come in a number of weeks. We want to make sure the competition in the group is there, especially at the top end of the field where if you have a goalscorer it's always good to have.
Has he expressed any concern about the new players coming in and a lack of opportunity?
No, not at all. He's very settled here, he's fighting to improve his performance level. He's doing extra after training with the coaches. Any player wants to play games, that's why they become a footballer - to play in the games. He's continued to work hard, he's not just satisfied. He's eager and hungry when that chance comes to prove he can get goals.