Brendan Rodgers sure new contract is a formality
Daniel Sturridge may not face former club Chelsea at Anfield because of hamstring injury
Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool is hoping to shake off a hamstring injury ahead of the Chelsea game on Sunday. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Brendan Rodgers is certain he will sign a long-term contract extension at Liverpool in the summer when he is expected to be rewarded for their startling improvement this season with a significant pay rise.
The Northern Irishman is on the verge of guiding Liverpool to their first league title since 1990, and has only 14 months left on the initial three-year deal he agreed when leaving Swansea in 2012.
The 41-year-old is content to wait until the end of the season for talks while he concentrates on securing the seven points Liverpool need to be champions. “There is no doubt that at some point we will agree another deal. I am sure of that.”
Rodgers could be negotiating from a position of greater strength if Liverpool beat Chelsea tomorrow, which would end his managerial mentor Jose Mourinho’s title hopes. The Portuguese manager hired Rodgers as the head of Chelsea’s academy and promoted him to reserve team manager in his first spell at Stamford Bridge.
“He’s been supportive of me wherever I have been, even in my time here. We might be considered a rival but I know that if they didn’t win the league he would want us to win it,” Rodgers said.
“He told me to take the job and what a great club Liverpool was. He encouraged me about the sheer scale of the club.”
Rodgers is hopeful that former Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge will recover from a hamstring injury, while Mourinho’s team selection will reflect the importance of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Atlético Madrid.
Mourinho remains infuriated at a perceived lack of support from the Premier League in terms of flexibility in the schedule, with the club having lobbied the league, Sky and Liverpool to bring tomorrow’s game forward 24 hours.
“If next season Chelsea plays an English team that is playing the Champions League semi-final two or three days later, Chelsea will accept to play the game one or two days before to give the chance to the English team to do it,” said Mourinho. “We would be protecting English football without creating any problem for Chelsea.”
Asked if that scenario would still apply if Chelsea and the other club were the top two in the Premier League, the Portuguese added: “Yes. Yes. Yes.”
Petr Cech will miss the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder and Mark Schwarzer is set to start at Anfield ahead of Hilario, who has not played a first-team game since August 2011. Mourinho is likely to include Tomas Kalas in defence.
Chelsea will be without Cech and the suspended Frank Lampard and Mikel John Obi against Atlético.
Mourinho said: “I can’t lose more players. Especially in some areas [of the team] . . . in the attacking areas, we have options but there are positions where I can’t lose one.
“The priority is the Champions League because, if we win two matches, we win it. As for Sunday, a club manager decides what is ‘full strength’.”