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Roy Hodgson happy with Raul Meireles improvement

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes Raul Meireles is now finding his feet in the Barclays Premier League and beginning to make an impact.

The former Porto midfielder was an influential figure in the victory against Aston Villa on Monday after making a slow start to his Anfield career.

Hodgson said: "With Raul Meireles it was always just a question of time. He came from a different league but I never doubted his quality as a player.

"I always knew we'd get something out of him because of his exceptional ability. I'm sure we'll get even more out of him now, with the more games he plays as he settles more and more into life in England."

Hodgson is convinced his side, who face Newcastle on Saturday, have enough time to claim a place in the Champions League.

"We'd like to think so, " he told liverpoolfc.tv. "But when you start as badly as we did then it's sensible for us to keep our feet on the ground.

"We are in something of a rebuilding process. As many as 20 to 22 players have left since I arrived here and very few have come in.

"But right from the beginning I've had the impression that the players are behind the work we are trying to do.

"We didn't get the results at the beginning but I never doubted we would become a more solid team. It was just a question of when our quality players would bring their quality to bear."

Hodgson is pleased with the form of both Maxi Rodriguez and Glen Johnson, the England full-back who was criticised by the manager last month for his poor performances.

Hodgson added: "Maxi Rodriguez is a very intelligent player. Despite the fact I do not speak Spanish and he doesn't speak that much English, we've always had a good understanding together.

"He knows what I want and I've been happy to see him do it on the field."

Hodgson added: "Glen Johnson is now different to the Glen Johnson we saw at the beginning. He's playing with confidence and is doing extremely well.

"It's the same with Fernando Torres recently. He's different to the one in the opening games. Now we are working together every day and we are seeing better team performances."