Brendan Rodgers still unsure over first-choice centre-backs

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Brendan Rodgers admits he is still pondering his chosen centre-back pairing ahead of the new Premier League campaign.

The Liverpool manager is set to reverse back to playing four defenders this season after playing the large majority of last term with three centre-backs.

Martin Skrtel will likely be Rodgers' first-choice centre-half after a number of impressive performances over the past two years.


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There's set to be a fight between Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho for a place next to Skrtel as Liverpool look to bring more solidarity at the back after conceding 48 goals in the 2014/15 season.

Lovren has been favoured during the pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia and was part of the core squad who beat HJK Helsinki 2-0 in Finland on Saturday as he partnered Skrtel from the first whistle.

Sakho remained at home to meet Swindon Town, however, as a regular France international, he seemingly would be the safer option.

But Rodgers is still undecided who will start in the back-four to face Stoke City away for Liverpool's first game of the season.

“It's not something I've totally decided upon yet,” the Northern Irishman told the Liverpool Echo.

“I'll sit down with the staff and we'll look at it next week. The key is getting consistency in that area of the field.

“Your two centre-halves are critical. They are the tactical decision makers in the game. That balance is important for us this season.

“We had too many defensive changes last year and that's not something that I like.

“Hopefully this season we'll be more consistent as a back four.”

Strong Defence

With Liverpool's defence being their Achilles heel over the past two years, Rodgers will be desperate to put things right.

Lovren looks set to play against Stoke given he's been favoured by Rodgers during pre-season. The Croatia international cost the Reds £20 million last summer from Southampton; but he certainly did not repay the hefty price-tag during his debut season.

Lovren looked to impress too much as his Liverpool boss gave him the responsibility to lead the back-line in the early stages of the campaign. Instead of keeping things simple, he looked to go the extra mile with his efforts, which led to a large number of defensive errors.

Rodgers has signed Nathaniel Clyne from Southampton for £12 million and he brings plenty to Liverpool's team. Clyne made more tackles than any defender last season and has become an England international regular. He will fill the gap at right-back following Glen Johnson's departure to Stoke and will bring a wealth of consistency to Anfield.

Left-back Vacancy

Whereas right-back is a role vacated and filled, it is still unclear who will start on the left-hand side of defence.

Alberto Moreno's maiden season at Liverpool was not all that inspiring and his defensive attributes are not the greatest. He tends to give wingers too much space and can rashly dive into challenges that either give away fouls or let the opposition skip past him.

Moreno did not feature on the pre-season tour and Rodgers said it was down to a 'knock.' There's been rumours he could leave Liverpool after joining just one year ago for £12 million from Sevilla, with AS Roma reportedly interested.

Joe Gomez has been a regular at left-back during pre-season and has been highly impressive.

At just 18-years-old some are sceptical whether he will be up to the physical game of the Premier League after playing for Charlton Athletic in the Championship last season.

However, Rodgers is confident in Gomez's abilities and will play the youngster against Stoke if necessary.

"I wouldn't have any issues (with playing him)," the ex-Swansea City boss added.

"You've seen from my time here that irrespective of the age of a player, it's about the quality and personality.

"Whether they are 17 or 27, if I think they are ready, I'll play them."

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Martin Skrtel
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