Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is confident the club can cope without Steven Gerrard next season, but warned his Anfield team-mates that every player must give a little bit more to help fill the void left by the soon-to-be-departing skipper.
Reflecting on his first year on Merseyside the £25 million signing from Southampton described his individual contribution to Brendan Rodgers' side as "very average" and is looking to raise his level of performances in 2015/16.
A number of niggling injuries have disrupted the England international's debut campaign, but he hopes to be over the worst of his problems now and is looking ahead to a brighter future with the Premier League giants.
Lallana has started just 22 league games for Liverpool this term, but netted his sixth goal in all competitions during the 3-1 loss against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
As well as chipping in with more goals next term the 26-year-old is also happy to take on more responsibility after Gerrard's departure, and can use his experience of captaining Saints to help inspire other players around him in the Anfield dressing room.
“There shouldn’t be any responsibility on anyone to solely fill Steven’s boots,” Lallana was quoted saying by The Guardian. “It is going to have to be a contribution from the team.
"If everyone gives two, three per cent extra then hopefully we can half fill that spot. It is going to be tough but we will be working hard.
“I’m 27 and I feel that responsibility. I’m a leader and I feel responsible in the group but we have a lot of leaders in the team. We have good team spirit as well. I just hope we can build on this season.
"There are a lot of ups and downs but plenty of positives to be had. We need to learn from it, take it into next year and definitely build on it.
“We had a poor start but we went on that [13-game unbeaten] run and that gave a lot of the lads confidence. We were struggling at the beginning of the season; we were struggling to find shape and form in any game.
"The disappointments of getting to two semi-finals but missing out on the finals, and of missing out on the top four, we need to learn from and just keep working as hard as we can.”
Saturday's disappointing defeat against the Eagles in Gerrard's farewell appearance last weekend means Liverpool are still not guaranteed a place in the Europa League next season, and with Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton hot on their tails they travel to the Britannia Stadium on the last day knowing that only a victory over Stoke City will ensure they finish in fifth spot after missing out on the top four.
The second tier competition is the best the Reds can hope for following their failure to qualify for the Champions League again, but that's something the players will all be striving to achieve next term.
After having a little taste of it this year, Lallana is determined to get back there again, and believes by improving his own form will give the club a better chance of achieving that goal.
Asked to sum up his first campaign at Liverpool, the Bournemouth-born ace said: “Very average to be honest. It is just my fitness that has frustrated me. Every time I feel like I’ve got going, I’d have a niggle and be out for two weeks.
“I started the season with an injury. I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give next season. If I stay fit I feel I will contribute my best to the team and we will move forward as a team and get back into the top four places.”
Liverpool fans: How do you think Brendan Rodgers' side will cope with life after Steven Gerrard? Can the Reds finish in the top four next season? Have your say below...
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