Football: Rodgers calls for Liverpool to seize initiative

SWANSEA, United Kingdom (AFP) - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has urged his side to be on the front foot against Swansea as they continue their battle to finish in the Premier League top four.

The Reds travel to the Liberty Stadium on Monday in striking distance of a Champions League place with 10 matches of the campaign remaining.

Rodgers' team are the league's form team with an undefeated record in 2015 and have been victorious in seven out of their last eight matches.

But he does not want them to lose sight of the challenges ahead and urged them to set the tone against Swansea.

"We just need to ensure we continue to be aggressive in our game and give everything that we have between now and the end of the season," Rodgers said.

"The points total is all very close and very tight, but we just have to focus on the next game. We know we need to continue playing and working as hard as we have done.

"A number of the teams have been up there for a lot of the season. We've re-joined the race for that in the last three months. I think it's going to be very tight, of course.

"We're really looking forward to these remaining games now. Everything counts in the games."

Rodgers spent two years in charge of Swansea and guided them to promotion to the English top-flight in his first campaign and then an 11th-place finish at the end of 2011-12 campaign.

His success was enough to earn him the chance to take over at Anfield and the 42-year-old admits he has a strong affection for his former club.

"Swansea's a place that I have a great affinity for," Rodgers added. "I spent two years there and the football club welcomed me straight away. The board were amazing for me. They gave me great freedom to work.

"And then outside of that, the people of the city and beyond were so welcoming for me. I had a wonderful time there. I have a great affinity and I like to see the club do well.

"I know as well as anyone that it's a very tough place to go. They've got great support. The pitch is normally wonderful.

"But they have had one or two results that they wouldn't have been pleased with. Either way we know it will be a very difficult game. But we're in a great moment."

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Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel is available after recovering from the blow to the head he sustained in the FA Cup quarter-final draw with Blackburn.

Reds captain Steven Gerrard has stepped up his return following a hamstring injury and could feature, while fellow midfielder Joe Allen has shaken off a minor hip problem.

Swansea manager Garry Monk is hopeful his side can move a step closer to beating their best-ever Premier League points total with victory over Liverpool.

The Welsh outfit currently have 40 points from 28 games this season, and Monk remains eager to surpass their record tally of 47 points.

"They're pushing for the top four, but we have our own agenda. Our next target is to beat our best-ever total of 47 points, and we've got a great chance of doing that," he said.

"We are going to push and fight for the three points to get us another step closer.

"We've been working well in training this week, and we'll try to nullify their strengths and show our own qualities." Swansea will have striker Bafetimbi Gomis again after fainted in the first half of their 3-2 defeat to Tottenham at the start of the month.

Gomis, who has a pre-existing medical condition, has returned to training and Monk said the powerful forward is "fine" and "his usual self".

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