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Sunday 22 October 2017

Lovren: It's not an easy job playing at Liverpool

Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren admits he has not found it easy to make an instant impact as manager Brendan Rodgers' defensive linchpin.

The Croatia international was signed at considerable cost - £20million - from Southampton as the Reds boss viewed him as a long-term replacement to fill the void left by Jamie Carragher's retirement in 2013.

Lovren has played every minute of Liverpool's four Premier League matches this season but so far they have managed just one clean sheet, in the 3-0 win at Tottenham.

He has had a mixed start to his Anfield career and Saturday's defeat by Aston Villa came partly as a result of his poor marking at a corner.

But it is still early days and Lovren is confident he can grow into the player Rodgers wants him to be.

"It is a tough job because I am a new player also," he said.

"It is not so easy to lead all the time. I was used to other players leading before but I have the confidence in myself and I am ready for it.

"I am just 25 and the thing is I need to improve in every game as a person and as a player.

"I am giving my best, which is the most important thing. With the time and the games it will come."

Liverpool have kept just two clean sheets in their last 13 Premier League outings and Rodgers admits it is an area they need to improve.

"We need to be better in those areas," he admitted.

"Of course we were disappointed at the weekend. It was a game where when you dominate with the ball (they had 75 per cent possession) and don't score you at least want to get a point.

"We had five players making their Anfield debut at the weekend and that cohesion does take that little bit of time.

"Our emphasis will always be positive but we need to tighten up in some areas."

Liverpool make their return to the Champions League on Tuesday night with the visit of Ludogorets.

Rodgers said their scouting of the Bulgarian minnows had revealed they were an open side but they may - as Villa did so successfully at the weekend - come to Anfield with a plan to frustrate.

The Reds boss insists his side are set up to cope with that.

"Their normal game in Bulgaria, the club's emphasis is to play attacking football," he said.

"They may want to come here and sit back of course, which is fine as a tactic but we only worry about ourselves.

"We are used to starting games quickly at Anfield but it is also vital if we don't get a goal in those early moments we don't concede."

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