Rodgers excited by Coutinho-Sturridge partnership

Despite drawing a blank against an under-strength Celtic side, the Reds boss was enthused by the rapport between the forward duo

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says that he is encouraged by the understanding shown between Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge during Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 friendly defeat to Celtic.

The Premier League side were left to rue a number of missed opportunities, as Amido Balde’s first-half proved the difference between the two sides – despite the fact that the Reds dominated the majority of the 90 minutes.

However, Rodgers had nothing but praise for the “really promising” partnership developing between his two January signings.

“Philippe Coutinho is playing fantastic,” the Reds boss told the media after the game in Dublin. “He’s a wonderful football player. He’s a real joy to watch. He’s very effective. He creates great opportunities.

“He’s disappointed that he didn’t score today. He had opportunities to get his shot off but he didn’t quite manage it.”

The pair both arrived at Anfield during the last transfer window and, with Luis Suarez’s future still unclear, the duo will have an added responsibility to create and score goals on a regular basis. 

Rodgers continued: “We’ve got some top players here, the likes of Steven Gerrard, Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, who are all on that same wavelength.

“Their interplay and how they combine is really promising. We’re really looking forward to starting now. They’re in real good shape and we’re itching to get going.”

Despite the glowing praise, the pair were both guilty of wasting gilt-edges opportunities as Liverpool failed to make it seven wins from seven during an encouraging pre-season schedule, but Rodgers is unworried about their inability to convert their possession into goals.

Sturridge, playing his first game since picking up a heel injury during England’s friendly with Republic of Ireland in May, spurned two glorious chances in the dying moments but Rodgers is confident the former Chelsea forward can build on a good start to his Anfield career.

“I thought he was excellent. You saw the difference when he came on with his pace and power. His link-up player with Coutinho was great. He’s working really hard to get fit.”

Meanwhile, the Reds boss claims that defender Daniel Agger missed Saturday’s friendly in Dublin because of a knee injury amid speculation that the Denmark international could be the subject of a bid from Barcelona.

Agger, who was handed the role of vice-captain on Friday, has been linked with a £17 million move to Camp Nou but Rodgers insists that he was absent because of a knock he picked up against Olympiacos.

“I think there were two things with Daniel: he had fluid in his knee after Steven Gerrard’s testimonial and he had to get that taken out. He hadn’t trained for the week,” the manager explained.

“The only other development was that we named him as the vice-captain. [There’s] nothing in terms of Barcelona.

“He’s a top player and really wants to work with the club and I’m really looking forward to him and his role and working with him again this season.”

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