Brendan Rodgers has countered Jamie Carraghers withering criticism of Liverpool by insisting his team does possess character and will prove it when attempting to preserve their Champions League status against Ludogorets.
Liverpool visit the Bulgarian champions on the back of four successive defeats and requiring a first win in four Champions League games to keep qualification in their own hands.
Lucas Leiva and Kolo Tour,two players who impressed at Real Madrid only to return to the bench for the following Premier League game against Chelsea,are expected to return to the starting lineup in Sofia with Rickie Lambert leading the attack in the absence of the injured pair Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge.
Sundays 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace prompted condemnation from former Liverpool vice-captain turned Sky television pundit Carragher, who described the performance as the latest example of Rodgers men being bullied, weak and showing no leadership on the pitch this season.
The Liverpool manager, however, said: We hear criticism of the team but this team has character, it showed it last season. It has shown its got resilience. Okay, we concede more than we would like at times but you cant question the character. That cant be criticised. We have players whove shown they have spirit but when you dont get victories it affects confidence and you dont perform quite as good. My job is to keep instilling that confidence.
On the specific point of being bullied at Palace, Rodgers added: Its a comment thats been made of course.Its something that happens when youre paid to be critics, well not critics, but to assess the team. When you lose games what Ive learnt is that people will say they want and thats what comes.
Whether criticism is deserved or not you wont like it but you just have to ignore it.I have a team full of characters, of fully committed people and hopefully thats something that will improve. We have to stand up and show that we can get a result and tough it out, and thats what we will definitely do.