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Rodgers post-Blackburn: We lacked sharpness; Skrtel is fine

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits his side lacked the sharpness to break down Blackburn but was aggrieved they did not have at least one penalty in their goalless FA Cup quarter-final at Anfield.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 8, 2015: Liverpool's manager Brendan Rodgers and Blackburn Rovers' manager Gary Bowyer during the FA Cup 6th Round Quarter-Final match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The mid-table Championship side certainly had the better of the first half but Rodgers felt Matt Kilgallon should have been penalised for a foul on Adam Lallana.

There was a second incident after the break when substitute Mario Balotelli appeared to have his shirt pulled inside the area, but ultimately Rodgers had to concede his side were not at their incisive best.

“The last three months we have been in outstanding form and the physical and mental energy we put into games is at such a high level,” he said. “Today we just lacked that bit of sharpness physically. You want to try and grind your way through the game. We did that.

“There is a physical energy in how we play and it is natural sometimes there will be a little bit of cost and that affected the speed of our play.

“Give Blackburn credit. The defended well in a low block, really well, and put their bodies on the line and made it really difficult for us.

“I definitely thought we should have had one penalty. Adam Lallana got his body between the man and the ball and as he went to shoot he was knocked over.

“I thought that was a clear penalty. The others were debatable. “We probably needed that bit of luck to get the game opened up.”

Liverpool struggled to get going after an eight-minute injury break when Martin Skrtel fell awkwardly and was eventually carried off on a stretcher wearing a neck brace.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 8, 2015: Liverpool's Martin Skrtel shakes hands with manager Brendan Rodgers as he carried off injured on at stretcher against Blackburn Rovers during the FA Cup 6th Round Quarter-Final match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He is fine but he will go to the local hospital to make sure. If he had his choice he wouldn’t but we have to follow procedure,” added the Reds boss, who said captain Steven Gerrard would be fit for the trip to Swansea a week on Monday after missing seven matches with a hamstring injury.

“He was fine, up walking and talking after the game but as a precaution we need to make sure he is okay.”

Rovers boss Gary Bowyer was pleased with the performance, although slightly disappointed they could not force a winner.

“Full credit to the players, they were magnificent and restored a bit more pride,” he said.

“Craig Conway had a fantastic chance and Alex Baptiste’s header brought a fantastic save from Mignolet.

“Aerially we were very dominant and had a couple of opportunities.”

The replay will not take place until next month because of Liverpool’s Monday night Premier League commitment at Swansea and an international break, and Bowyer warned them it would be far from plain sailing at a ground where Rovers have already dispatched Swansea and Stoke.

“Our players were pleasantly delighted to see so much grass on the pitch at Anfield,” he said.

“At Ewood it is not like that. Brendan was complaining about the pitch here. Wait until he sees Ewood. It makes this look like Wembley.”

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