Brendan Rodgers has picked out the positives from a series of injuries which have affected the Liverpool squad by insisting that the news provides a chance for others to shine in the first team.

Daniel Agger missed Monday's Barclays Premier League clash with Swansea City and Philippe Coutinho required an operation after suffering an injury at the Liberty Stadium.

Joe Allen, Aly Cissokho, Sebastian Coates, Glen Johnson and Kolo Toure have each spent varying time on the sidelines too, although Rodgers has challenged any potential replacements to now make a seamless step up.

"You can't forecast the injuries and obviously they have been unfortunate," he said at his pre-Southampton press conference on Thursday.

"Young Coutinho will have to take a bit of time out. But it will open the door for someone else and they have to come in and perform.

"Martin Skrtel had been out of the team for a long time but retained his commitment to the cause and retained his quality in training every day so that he was ready to come back in.

"I said at the beginning of the season: I need every single one of them - not just 11 - we need everybody. You just need to continue to be professional, so that when you are asked to come in, you are ready. And if you come in and you get the shirt, you do well.

"So it's unfortunate that we have lost the quality of players we have. Glen Johnson is the type of player who you don't realise what you miss until he's not in the team. But hopefully he won't be out too long - a matter of weeks before he's back.

"We have players that are flexible. That's my idea at the top end of the field. We've got players that aren't just nailed down to one position. They have the flexibility to play really well in a couple of positions. So I have that in the squad; players that are capable of playing in those roles.

"Each individual player brings his own quality to the position. But because of the types of players we bring in, there will be a lot of them who are going to be technically gifted and who have that strength and quality to play.

"Philippe is one of the best No.10s in the league, how he plays in between the lines and how he finds the space in behind the midfield players. His incisive passing and the weight of his pass is exceptional. That's what has made him a big star so far.

"We've got other players that have those qualities to play in different positions."

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With Agger ruled out, French international Mamadou Sakho made his Liverpool debut against Swansea earlier this week - and the manager was impressed by the No.17's first showing.

"I thought it was a good introduction for him, not an easy place to make your first appearance in the Barclays Premier League," added the Northern Irishman.

"He came in late on and coped very well considering he hasn't played a great deal over the course of pre-season. Certainly before coming here his training programme hadn't been a lot either.

"He showed why he can be a real success at Liverpool and at this level - he's strong, he's quick, he's aggressive and he can pass the ball. He has got a lovely left foot and good weight in his pass.

"Once he becomes accustomed to the demands of this league, he'll slot in and do very well."

One defender who has required very little adaptation to life at Anfield is Toure, who returned on Monday from a brief lay-off after becoming an instant fan favourite during the opening weeks of the season.

Rodgers said: "Kolo has brought enthusiasm. I think everyone has been taken aback. I was certainly aware of his qualities as a man but when he came through the door, you realise how he's magnetic in terms of his enthusiasm for the game.

"He has brought hunger, even though he has won titles. He's come from a club that has won the league and yet he's still very hungry to do well. He has got great human qualities - he's a very humble guy.

"He has offered great experience to our younger players and offered great support to some of our senior players as well. The likes of Steven Gerrard speak a lot and you can see that instant respect he's got within the club.

"He has worked hard for it - he's certainly not here for an easy payday. He trains every day and even when he's not fit he's down with the group. He's really enjoying his time here. So I've enjoyed having him and I think fans have seen his performances and they've loved him."

The Reds sit top of the Premier League ahead of Southampton's visit to Merseyside this Saturday, having won three and drawn one of their fixtures so far this campaign.


Reporters at Melwood asked the manager whether his ambitions have expanded from Champions League qualification to a potential title challenge.

"I haven't even considered that at all - the only focus is the next game," he responded.

"Our expectancy is to improve as a team - the demand for us is to get ourselves right and prepared for the game at the weekend.

"We'll assess it after 10 games, see where we sit there, then the halfway point and we'll probably have a more realistic idea of where we can be. At this moment, we've played four - won three and drawn one - and we're in a good moment.

"Over a period of games, we've had resilience as well as some great quality in our football. There's great confidence in the group and that's big respect to them.

"They come into work every single day and they never look for an easy day; they're willing to work their socks off. They want to take on board the ideas that we're trying to implement, the plan for each game.

"It doesn't always go perfectly but I could never criticise them for effort - it's the obligation at a club like this to work very hard.

"What we're doing now is marrying together all of the qualities we work on every day, which are the football qualities, physical and mental qualities. That's what you need if you're going to succeed in the Premier League.

"There's a lot more to come. We've made a good start. People will talk that it's early stages, as will I, but these are hurdles you have to get over.

"We're on 10 points already; at the end of last season we finished on 61 points and we talked about those extra 10 points that might have taken us into the Champions League. At this early stage we've got them.

"I believe the team has still got a lot of improvements to make, because of the nature of what I've seen in the games and the potential we have in the players.

"We get Luis Suarez back next week, which is a world-class signing coming back into the picture. The attitude and how we've been in the opening games has been excellent.

"We've got to sustain that but I'm really happy that in these early stages we've shown at least potential. I think that potential can grow even more."