The Belgian goalkeeper has come in for severe criticism this season as he stands behind the Reds’ leaky back line but his manager says that he fighting to raise his standards
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has defended Simon Mignolet as the goalkeeper continues to come under fire for his performances.
The Belgian has endured much criticism for his displays this season, with the Reds struggling to recapture the form that saw them finish second in 2013-14.
Mignolet presented Leicester City’s Esteban Cambiasso with an open goal thanks to a careless pass during Tuesday’s 3-1 victory but the Argentine let the keeper off the hook by shooting wide.
The 26-year-old was then unfortunate to concede an own goal as a shot from Leonardo Ulloa rebounded off the post, hit him on the back and went in, and Rodgers came to his No.1’s defence on Thursday.
“Simon Mignolet is working very hard on the training field to improve,” he told reporters ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sunderland.
The midweek win at Leicester saw Liverpool complete back-to-back top-flight victories for just the second time this season and Rodgers was full of praise for the manner in which his players have reacted to a difficult spell that saw them lose four in a row in all competitions.
“It’s a really exciting period,” he added. “The players have shown the character I always said they had. They have responded magnificently.”
Mario Balotelli missed the Leicester win with a groin injury and remains sidelined as the Football Association continues its investigation into a controversial social media post made by the Italian but Rodgers insists that he has not lost faith in the former AC Milan man and also hopes to welcome Philippe Coutinho and Jose Enrique back into his squad against Sunderland.
“[Balotelli] is injured at moment but he’s still very much a Liverpool player. My concentration is on those fit and available,” Rodgers noted.
“Coutinho had a slight issue with his knee but should be OK for Saturday. Enrique has trained and should be OK.”
One major source of frustration for Rodgers this season has been the continued absence of Daniel Sturridge. The England striker, who scored 21 Premier League goals last season, has not played for Liverpool since August due to various muscle injuries.
Sturridge’s latest setback is expected to keep him out until January, although Rodgers says the 25-year-old is progressing well in his rehabilitation.
“He has gone away to get some work in, with some of our staff, doing specific work,” the Northern Irishman continued. “He’s coming along well.”