Brendan Rodgers insists Joe Allen can make a telling contribution to Liverpool's fortunes during the remainder of the Reds' 2013-14 season, as he offered an in-depth insight into how the squad's strength impacts on preparation for matches.

The Wales international has made just four appearances so far this term due to injury, but returned to action as a second-half substitute in a 4-0 victory over Fulham last time out.

In his absence, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva and Jordan Henderson have excelled as the Reds' midfield triumvirate; however, Rodgers insists Allen has a key role to play.

The manager told Liverpoolfc.com: "Joe is an outstanding young player that since March has been blighted by injury.

"He made a great start to his career here at Liverpool, but then he curtailed a bit - and obviously a big part of that was due to injury.

"He came back in pre-season from his shoulder injury and was outstanding; it looked like he was ready to regain that form, but he got injured towards the end. He's now only really coming back and came on against Fulham.

"Joe is a wonderful technician. He's not going to be someone who is going to get 15 goals a season - that's not his game. His game is really to keep the flow of the game and allow you to control the ball and the game.

"At the levels we're talking about here, that's vitally important. He'll nick a goal here and there, and there will be other players that will be more defensive-type midfielders.

"Lucas is more of a controller, Joe is a dynamic player who can break lines with his passing and running with the ball. We've obviously got Steven alongside that, who can get a goal and has a great range of passing.

"He's still got a vitally important role to play for us. His first objective was to get fit, and now he's getting up to fitness."

Rodgers' midfield possibilities clearly illustrate the strengthening the Liverpool squad has undergone since the Northern Irishman was installed to the helm in June 2012.

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Likewise, the boss has several key options to choose from in defence following his summer transfer activity.

"We're trying to build the squad here," Rodgers said. "My history will always dictate that I go for players who are technically gifted and have got some personality.

"We brought in defenders [in the summer] because they're hard to come by, but we brought in one who could play in the team [Mamadou Sakho] and one with potential [Tiago Ilori].

"The squad is slowly coming together - we still need a few more windows to get it ideal - but we're growing all the time."

With an abundance of talent to choose from, Liverpool have varied between utilising the 4-3-3 and 3-5-2 formations this season.

The Reds reverted to their perhaps more traditional 4-3-3 against Fulham before the international break, resulting in a 4-0 victory over the Cottagers.

"It's something I wanted to bring into the team in my time here," Rodgers explained when quizzed about Liverpool's change in systems.

"It's never easy because you're trying to consolidate and develop one system, and you don't want to move away from it too much in case the work you've done gets forgotten and you move onto another system.

"The players have shown that flexibility, it's worked well for us when we have changed, and it gives us great possibilities in the future."

The decision on which formation to deploy is one of the biggest factors a manager must consider before a game - and Rodgers served up an interesting insight into the decision-making process.

"First and foremost I look at the players available," said the 40-year-old.

"That was part of the change in our system when we went to 3-5-2. What we've shown is tactical flexibility to flip between a couple of formations, and we've won games when we've flipped.

"That bodes well for us. Then, of course, you're looking at the opponent and certain areas of strength you need to look at - if they play with one up front, do you have to play with three [centre-backs]?

"You're asking yourself, analysing and preparing the team through all of those tactical questions, but either way I'll always judge and look at my own players first and make a decision from there."

It's not just pre-match that Rodgers has a decision to make when it comes to formations - the boss has been known to alter systems during a game.

"We've done it a number of times," he reflected. "I'm not someone that sits and talks tactics with people, I tend to keep that private and do a lot of the work behind the scenes here.

"But we study and analyse games with a fine-tooth comb, we look at a lot of tactical adjustments we can make. Throughout the course of my time here, that's something we've done.

"They might only be subtle changes - we played Wigan last year and played 4-2-3-1 and it wasn't quite working for us. I had to change the game inside the opening 25 minutes and we went to 4-3-3.

"That allowed us to get control and superiority in the game, and we went on to win it.

"At Goodison last year, we went 2-0 up but were pegged back to 2-2 and I felt [Marouane] Fellaini and [Nikica] Jelavic were dominant in the way they were playing, so we stuck in an extra centre-half, went to 3-5-2 and ended up looking much stronger in the second half.

"We're always analysing the game to gain that advantage. Whether it's through systems or style, that's something I'll always look at."

The Merseyside derby is next up for Liverpool as they make the short trip across Stanley Park to tackle Everton on Saturday lunchtime.

For a fixture world-renowned for its passion and intensity, how much influence can tactics have on the outcome of the game?

"You're just looking at the shape of your team," Rodgers considers.

"You've got to, in some ways, just really focus on the performance - if you focus too much on the things you can't control, your mind wanders and even before you kick a ball you'll be mentally fatigued.

"It's not another game because it's a big game, a derby game against a rival, but you've really got to focus on the performance, and if we can do that then we know whether we're home or away, we'll have a great chance to win the game."