'Lovren will improve' after poor debut season says Brendan Rodgers
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says a confident Dejan Lovren will see the Croatian establish himself at the heart of his defence this season.
The £20million signing from Southampton last summer was supposed to provide the leadership Rodgers thought his side had been lacking since the retirement of veteran Jamie Carragher, but things quickly went downhill for the new arrival.
Some shaky performances resulted in him being dropped in November and although he made fleeting appearances in the rest of the campaign he looked well short of providing what was required of him.
This summer Lovren has been given plenty of pitch time in pre-season to establish a partnership with Martin Skrtel, the club's senior centre-back, and the pair was partly responsible for the clean sheet kept in last weekend's win at Stoke.
"I thought he was very good last week and that is confidence. I always felt in his second season he will be a better player," said Rodgers.
"It is such a huge move to come here and it is only when you are in you realise the expectation.
"It was about trying to find that balance in pre-season. We have excellent central defenders in (Mamadou) Sakho and Kolo (Toure) but it is about finding that confidence in a partnership and I thought they were excellent.
"Dejan in particular was aggressive, good in the air, his reading of the game was good and his passing was simple but effective.
"I think he has gained confidence over pre-season and I hope that will be maintained."
Lovren will start alongside Skrtel again for Monday's visit of Premier League newcomers Bournemouth.
Rodgers is keen to kick-off their home form with a win to set the tone for the rest of the season having dropped 22 points at Anfield last term.
"Building confidence early on is important, that is key. Getting the vibrancy and level of football - and obviously winning," added the Reds boss.
"If you can do that early on that creates confidence and I am looking forward to seeing this team evolve.
"Home form is so important if you are going to succeed.
"When you have confidence that will give you the success and the confidence comes from working hard and getting victories at home.
"Our aim every game is to be on the front foot. We are a team who want to dominate and that will always be the case, particularly at home."