Brendan Rodgers talks up progress at Liverpool despite continued efforts to make signings

There could yet be new arrivals at Anfield this summer

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers may still be looking for new players but he already feels his team have come a long way.

Rodgers is hoping to steer the Reds back into the Champions League for the first time since 2010 and has said he would like to add to the five summer signings he has already made.

But the Northern Irishman was hugely encouraged by the performance in last week's season-opening win over Stoke and is happy with the improvement since taking over a year ago.

Rodgers, whose side finished seventh in the Barclays Premier League last season, said: "In order to be a winner you have to have the belief. That was something last year we were maybe not able to find consistently.

"But we have picked up a lot. The group has grown over time. It might only have been a small thing last week, but to get that win shows the development mentally.

"I can only speak highly of the players. They are the ones doing the work, they are the ones being driven and asked. To get that last week was very important for us.

"Whatever transfer talk or speculation there has been this week, the bottom line is there are some outstanding players here - top, top players.

"They will hopefully keep finding the ways to win games and hopefully we will add to the squad alongside them."

Rodgers has indicated he may look for a central defender before the September 2 transfer deadline while recent, albeit fruitless, interest in Willian indicates a desire to bring in an exciting attack-minded player.

Liverpool impressed against Stoke although they scored only one goal through Daniel Sturridge and it needed a late penalty save from Simon Mignolet to preserve the win.

Rodgers said: "It was a really good win for us. Stoke are a very tough team to break down.

"The performance level was very good and we got the three points besides that, which is the most important element."

The Reds will hope to carry forward their confidence into this weekend's trip to Aston Villa.

Rodgers is preparing for a difficult encounter given that Villa, who last season survived a scrape with relegation, have shown vibrancy in their opening games against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Rodgers said: "I very much expect for them to have a very good season this year.

"They are very much a counter-attacking team. They set up to defend half a pitch and then they break out with pace - (Christian) Benteke and (Gabriel) Agbonlahor in particular.

"There is no doubt Benteke is the real reference point for the team. The ball goes up to him and he holds it up well. He is a big powerful boy.

"Andreas Weimann makes good runs and has a knack for a goal.

"It is about trying to control the counter-attack. They are very fast, energetic players.

"But our focus is really on our own game. Our mind is very good at the moment. The players are continuing from last season and we just want to keep that going."

Liverpool continue without Luis Suarez, who is now halfway through the 10-match ban he received last season.

The controversial forward's future remains uncertain even though Liverpool remain steadfast in their determination not to sell and the player is back in training after his recent calls to leave.

Rodgers is pleased with the way the rest of his squad have not been affected by the summer-long saga concerning the Uruguayan.

He said: "It is safe to say of any distractions or speculation, we have controlled that, and focused on performing well on the training ground, finding ways to be better every day and taking that into the games.

"We will go into this game with good confidence but expecting Aston Villa to be a good team and we'll have to work hard to get a result."

PA

Suggested Topics
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'