Liverpool forward Fabio Borini can point to the specific areas where he improved during the productive season he spent on loan with Sunderland in 2013-14.

The Italian was a crucial factor in the Black Cats' avoidance of relegation from the Barclays Premier League and qualification for the Capital One Cup final.

Tangibly, the 23-year-old found the target 10 times in 40 appearances in all competitions.

His encouraging form continued as he returned to Reds duty for the post-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers on Wednesday, notching the second in a 4-0 victory.

"It's nice to end the season in a positive way and be happy in the holidays," he told following the win in Dublin.

"It was a nice feeling in front of the supporters - it's always a great moment for a player to play in front of them. It gave me confidence and hope for the future."

Asked for an analysis of how his game has changed since he left Anfield temporarily in September 2013, Borini said: "I learned more about the game, to wait and I can adapt during the game.

"Before, I found that more difficult; I was starting the game one way and finishing the same.

"Now I can change my game and adapt to what is actually happening on the pitch, which is really important to mature.

"It has been great. It was a little bit hard at the beginning, because we were fighting all the time. We managed to get out of that situation and it was a great feeling."

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Amid the tribulations of a dramatic campaign for Sunderland, though, the No.29 kept a close watch on his parent club and their remarkable rise in the Premier League.

He added: "I was always looking at Liverpool and their great season; the aim was to get into a Champions League spot and they did it."