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Rodgers Praises Impact of Borini and Lucas

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In the midst of a congested fixture list, Brendan Rodgers sought to praise Fabio Borini and Lucas Leiva for stepping up when given the opportunity.

Gareth Copley

Last season, Liverpool didn't face real fixture congestion until December, when the pile of league matches over the holidays hits every club regardless of how many competitions they're in. This season, after easing into things in September, October has seen them playing twice a week since every week.

It's a situation manager Brendan Rodgers says he looked forward to heading into the season, and now he's looking forward to Newcastle before a quick turnaround to Real Madrid and then Chelsea. It's also a situation he believes his current squad can cope with, pointing to a heavily changed side coming away with the victory on Tuesday against Swansea.

"A couple of years ago, if we made a lot of changes we'd probably be beaten," said the manager. "The other night we made nine changes and managed to come away with the win. We strengthened the squad because of situations like this. It's exciting, and we're looking forward to the Newcastle game and to playing stretches like this."

Rodgers has at times this season still appeared resistant to rotating his squad, but on Tuesday he may have finally embraced it, making wholesale changes and leaving Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling out entirely. They'll be back for Newcastle, but the manager's praise for Fabio Borini and Lucas Leiva suggests they might not have to play every minute of the next three matches.

"Daniel Sturridge being out has been a big miss for us, but sometimes it can give opportunities to others," said Rodgers. "The other night, Fabio Borini was outstanding. He made a perfect cross at the end and worked hard and was lively all night. Lucas, too, who hasn't seen much action this year, was excellent alongside Jordan Henderson."

Meanwhile on the injury front, Rodgers said that Jose Enrique—who missed Tuesday with a knee injury—won't be in contention for Saturday. Neither will Daniel Sturridge, Jon Flanagan, Mamadou Sakho, or Suso, though the first three are all nearing a return to action.