Rodgers's side host Southampton on Saturday closer to the relegation zone than the top four, with four points separating them from Nigel Adkins's third-bottom team and a 10-point gap from fourth-placed West Bromwich Albion. Yet with no side pulling clear in fourth, and Rodgers confident of adding to his forward line in January, the Liverpool manager believes a top-four finish is not impossible should the team recover ground before the transfer window opens.
The Northern Irishman, who saw an eight-match unbeaten run end at Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, said: "It is realistic, absolutely. Teams are taking points off each other. Let's be honest, it is a big ask, a massive ask, but that has to be our target. We are going to look to try and get as close to that as we possibly can."
The Liverpool manager also claimed to be unconcerned at a return of only 16 points from 14 Premier League games and the team's proximity to the relegation zone. "I wouldn't want to think about us like that," he said. "The table is very tight and we have had a run of games where we didn't quite have the wins we wanted but we played well. Now we have to show the winning mentality. Over the course of the next month there is an opportunity to gets wins on the board.
"I am only looking upwards. In August I was thinking we just had to hang on with the group we have got and try to develop the young players. The senior players have been brilliant, too. The way Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger controlled Jermaine Defoe on Wednesday, and Defoe is one of the best strikers around at the minute, was brilliant. These guys are working well and working hard. I have an inherent belief in the group and that will continue to grow. If I didn't have that, I would be concerned. I would tell you."
The Liverpool manager, who has Lucas Leiva back in the squad for the first time since he tore a thigh muscle in August, is adamant the team's confidence will not be undermined by the lack of victories.
He explained: "If you look at the players they are giving everything. They are not walking or strolling about. They are giving their maximum. We went into the changing room after Wednesday's game and wondered how we lost it. My job is to keep that confidence, belief in the group because eventually it will change, whether it is through one or two additions or whether one or two find some form and get some goals.
"I've always been very optimistic in my life. There's no doubt we need to get results, I know that as well as anyone. I have got a vision of where I want us to go and I believe we are on track. Things have gone against us and it does exasperate you. You think to yourself: 'What have we got to do to get a penalty or get a bit of luck?'But I don't see us anywhere near that point. I see a group that is motivated and very committed to the cause, working very hard to get those results. That is all you can do. If you have got that as your core, then you have got a chance. Then it comes down to quality."
Rodgers admits that any reinforcements in January – and the manager has ruled out a move for Aston Villa's Darren Bent – must arrive early in the window. "I think we will be able to do business at the beginning. That was our strategy coming out of August: to get that support at the beginning of the month and then improve it. That would be the idea. If we could do that, it would be a big boost for us," he said. Asked how much business he wishes to conduct in January, Rodgers added: "As much as I can do really."
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