Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to the contribution made by his five debutants in Sunday’s season-opening 1-0 win at Stoke City in the Premier League.
Rodgers started with four of his close-season recruits as Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez lined up in defence with James Milner among the midfielders tasked with providing chances for £32.5million man Christian Benteke.
Roberto Firmino came off the bench to add attacking impetus with the game goalless late on, but it was one of Liverpool’s existing stars – Philippe Coutinho – who snatched the points with a long-range stunner.
Already well aware of what Coutinho is capable of, Rodgers directed plenty of praise towards his new faces.
“The players that we brought in have that character,” Rodgers said.
“Look at Benteke up front; people talk about him only being a player that can play off a long ball, but you saw his quality today – his set-up of the game, his movement, his strength, his power and that ability in the air.
“Of course you should have that at 6’4”, but he was outstanding today.
“Young Joe Gomez, at 18 years of age, playing against a really good player in Jonathan Walters, I thought he handled it and as the game wore on he became even stronger.
“Nathaniel Clyne has been outstanding since he came in, James Milner with that experience.
“And the boys that were on the bench and came on, Firmino and the other guys, have all settled in really well. It’s a team that certainly has that personality, but of course you’ve got to show it in the game and they did that.”
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