Belfast Telegraph

Brendan Rodgers backs under-fire keeper Simon Mignolet

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists Simon Mignolet's shaky performances are not a factor in the team's lack of confidence and has backed the under-fire goalkeeper's mental resilience.

The Belgium international has been criticised for lacking a commanding presence in his penalty area and for his poor distribution, while his mistake for the first Ludogorets goal in the Champions League in midweek only intensified calls for him to be replaced.

Mignolet has kept just two clean sheets in his last 24 appearances and this season has looked less than convincing, but with no real competition - second-choice Brad Jones has played just 23 matches in four and a half years - Rodgers is obliged to stick with Mignolet, the £10m replacement for Jose Reina two summers ago which was always seen as a downgrade and was unpopular with fans.

"It is never easy. However, it (criticism) comes. Deserved or not, you won't like it but he is fine," said Rodgers.

"His performance is like the team; we all need to be better collectively. We are losing games and not playing so well so it (criticism) happens and the focus on you at a club like Liverpool is magnified."

Mignolet can expect to be tested against Stoke at Anfield today as Liverpool look to end a run of three successive league defeats which has dropped them to 12th in the table.

The Ulsterman is himself under pressure and is second favourite to be the next manager sacked. However, he is happy to absorb that burden in order to deflect it from his players.

"They (bookmakers) obviously expect me to lose my job," he added. "It is football. A few months ago I was manager of the year and now I am favourite to get the sack."

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