Liverpool V West Ham at Anfield : Match Preview
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Rodgers targets a strong finish
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will head into the summer confident of strengthening his squad following "brilliant" conversations with the club's owners.
It has been a rollercoaster first season in charge for Rodgers that began abysmally in the league, has included shock cup exits to former club Swansea and especially Oldham, but has gradually gathered some momentum.
The Reds go into Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with West Ham at Anfield on the back of a run of five wins in their last six matches in all competitions.
But even then the one blip was a surprise 3-1 loss at Southampton that underlined Liverpool under Rodgers are still a work in progress.
In terms of much-needed European qualification, Liverpool are three points adrift of a Europa League place and seven off a spot in the Champions League.
Failure to reach either could alter the nature of future talks with John W Henry and Tom Werner about the funds required to take the club forward under Rodgers' leadership.
For now, Rodgers has been encouraged by what he has heard from the duo as he said: "We all know this year has been about building a base and setting us up for next season.
"As I predicted, as the season has gone on we've become stronger, but there is no doubt for us to go to the next level we are going to need reinforcements.
"On that front, the conversations I've had so far with the owners have been brilliant, very positive and forthcoming.
"Given that support, it's up to us now as a club to bring in the type of player who can really help us. If we can do that then we can put in a challenge next season right from the very beginning."
Raheem Sterling is Rodgers' only fresh injury doubt due to an ongoing thigh complaint which is being assessed and could lead to him being out for a several weeks in order to protect it.
With the exception of long-term absentees Fabio Borini and Joe Allen (both shoulder) and Martin Kelly (knee), Rodgers otherwise has a full squad to choose from.
Sam Allardyce is unfazed by West Ham's near 50-year wait for victory at Anfield.
The Hammers hope to claim a first win at the famous ground since September 1963 by finding the away goals that have been lacking so far this season - and they must do so without Andy Carroll, who is blocked from playing against his parent club.
"Most of the time Liverpool were so much better than anybody else, you wouldn't have expected it," said Allardyce of the half-century wait.
"Other people have won there - West Brom and that - so they have slipped up now and again.
"You just hope when you go it's your turn to catch a big boy who slips up on the day.
"On any given day you hit your best form, then anybody can win any football match.
"It happens less often at some places like Anfield than it does others."
The Hammers beat West Brom 3-1 last weekend, with two goals from Carroll, to all but secure their Premier League survival.
Allardyce believes his side are capable of winning at European hopefuls Liverpool, but knows if they are not at their best they will be punished.
"We need to be on top form and we need to take our chances when they arrive," he said. "If we don't life will be really tough at Anfield."
Joe Cole (hamstring) joins Carroll in missing out on an Anfield return.
Defender George McCartney's knee injury is not as bad as first feared and does not require surgery, although he misses out, while Mark Noble (shoulder) is unavailable.
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