BRENDAN RODGERS remains convinced Liverpool FC can gatecrash the top four this season – provided they go shopping early in the January sales.
Rodgers’ side remain marooned in the bottom half of the table after their eight-match unbeaten Premier League run was ended by the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.
The Anfield outfit are 10 points adrift of a Champions League qualification berth after winning just three of their first 14 top-flight matches.
Liverpool have another seven league games, starting at home to Southampton this afternoon, before they are able to bring in players during the January transfer window.
But asked if fourth place is still a realistic target, Rodgers says: “Absolutely. Absolutely. Teams are taking points off each other.
“Let’s be honest – it is a big ask, a massive ask. But that has to be our target. We are going to look to try and get as close to that as we possibly can.
“I’m not worried about the points tally. I am only looking upwards. I have an inherent belief in the group and that will continue to grow.
“If I didn’t have that, I would be concerned. I would tell you.
“We are going into a month that if we can hang on in there, keep the performance level up, pick up some points and be around it. We can then kick on.”
Rodgers added: “We have got a real good group here. I have always thought that if you have three-and-a-half goalscorers in your team, you have got a chance. We have got Luis Suarez. Steven Gerrard will get goals.
“If we can add a couple more that you know are goalscorers, who instinctively get into the box and get goals, with the domination that we are having in games, then we have got a chance in the second half of the season.”
Rodgers is keen to sign at least two new forward players during the January transfer window with Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge and Blackpool winger Tom Ince heading his list of possible targets.
And the Northern Irishman added: “I think we will be able to do business at the beginning. That was our strategy coming out of August: to we could get that support at the beginning of the month and then improve it. That would be the idea. If we could do that, it would be a big boost for us.”
Rodgers had raised alarm among supporters earlier in the week by suggesting the club needs to balance its books, prompting fears he may have to sell before he can buy in January.
But he added: “Balancing the books was a comment for over the period of time. It wasn’t just specifically for January.
“Really now it is about building the squad and trying to make it competitive, adding numbers to it. If we are going to lose players, it has to be because there are other players coming in. That is very important for us.”
Lucas Leiva, meanwhile, is expected to make his first senior appearance today since limping out of the 2-2 home draw with Manchester City on August 26 with a thigh injury.
And the Brazilian said: “When you don't play, you think that people might forget about you but I think it has been completely the opposite.
“People send me nice messages and they say that they really miss me. So this has given me the confidence to come back.
“The players, on a daily basis, have really supported me. I remember when Luis scored and he had a message for me on his shirt. These are the small things that really mean a lot and they keep you going. Now it's the time for me to repay that and help them.”
Asked if the return of Lucas could free up Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard in central midfield, Rodgers said: “Nobody has been given a more defensive role. You have got 4-3-3. You have got one pivot, two attacking and with the full-backs you have six. Then you have got the corridor.”