Newcastle v Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers sees room for improvement with strong squad available this weekend

The Reds are level on points with table-toppers Arsenal

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The Independent Online

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will takes his strongest squad of the season to Newcastle this weekend with the assertion there is plenty more to come from his side.

The second-placed Reds head to St James' Park for Saturday's early kick-off at virtually full strength.

Only playmaker Philippe Coutinho is missing as he continues his recovery from a shoulder operation as full-backs Glen Johnson and Aly Cissokho and midfielder Joe Allen all return.

"We'll arrive with our strongest squad of the season against Newcastle," said Rodgers.

"We'll get better as we grow together more. I go on about performance because I don't just like to get three points; I worry about playing well and playing in a certain way. That's always how I've been.

"But I can't take anything away from how we've been so far. In terms of results, we've been absolutely brilliant and this is the most competitive league in the world.

"But it shows you how much growth there is still left in the team, that we can win games 3-1 (last time out at home to Crystal Palace) and I can come away a little bit dissatisfied because of the performance.

"What I can't argue with is the work of the players, the honesty of the players, how humble they are and how willing they are to come in to train every day to be better.

"I've got a great group here that I think will get better - that's something that we aim to do, always improve.

"If we can do that and continue to win games, then of course I'll be happy."

Not that Rodgers will be taking the Magpies lightly even if they have struggled to hit top form at home having registered a win, a draw and defeat at St James' so far.

They were 2-1 winners at Cardiff prior to the international break and the Reds boss expects them to have been lifted by that after two successive league defeats.

And he does not expect their 6-0 drubbing over the Magpies in April to give his side any advantage.

"In our game last year, we were exceptional up there in our performance level," he added.

"With all due respect it probably has no bearing on the game at the weekend.

"It's going to be a tough game, but we're full of confidence and real belief in the team.

"There will be even greater motivation from our perspective, because we know that Newcastle are coming off the back of a really good result at Cardiff.

"It hasn't been so easy for them at home. It's a difficult place - you've got some 50,000 really passionate supporters who demand that you play attacking football."

Over the international break Liverpool recalled two of their younger players Michael Ngoo and Joao Carlos Teixeira early from loan spells with Yeovil and Brentford respectively.

There has been much debate this season about giving youth a chance further down the league system but Rodgers said it was not always the panacea it was portrayed to be.

"If it helps the club in their finances - or if they are not getting game time - to bring them back then that is what we will do," he said.

"I understand from the managers' perspective but I also have to protect the players here and they will have learned from the experience - good or bad.

"Some of the younger players aren't good enough. Everyone expects because you are at a top club and have some good young players then they can just literally walk into a League One team and think they are it.

"It is a harsh reality. It is not the bright lights of the Premier League, it is a tough world.

"Some guys are out there, experienced players, earning £400-£500 a week and they are not going to let someone come in who thinks he is a superstar and take his place, that is his life.

"They have to earn the right to go out there. We want them to go out and play but they have to be good enough and if not then they won't.

"Sometimes when you are at a big club and not getting an opportunity you sometimes need a career outside the club before you have your career in the club unless you are ultra-talented."

PA

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