Dejan Lovren full of praise for Liverpool's defensive improvement

Lovren made his first start since December against Southampton, and has returned to a side that has discovered some sense of solidity.

Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has praised the side for their improvement when it comes to defending, which has helped them get back into the mix for Champions League qualification.

Lovren has been watching from the sidelines for the majority of the side's improvement as a back three of Emre Can, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho, along with the improved form of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, has helped Liverpool keep five successive clean sheets in the league for the first time since 1985.

The Croatia international has not featured much during that period, with his appearances being restricted to the odd cameo, but he started in the 2-0 win against his former club Southampton on Sunday and has praised the team as whole for their effort, and says Mignolet deserves the plaudits that are heading his way.

He told the official Liverpool website: "The first couple of months didn't go so well, but now you can see the real shape of the team. Everything has settled down and the manager has solved everything. The bad times are behind us.

"I always say, it's not the four or five at the back who are about the defence - it is the whole team. A clean sheet is because of all of the players, from the strikers to the goalkeeper.

"Everyone is involved. We haven't conceded in the last couple of games, so we need to continue like this by defending and attacking together."

Lovren has struggled for form ever since his £20 million move in the summer from the Saints but is likely to get some more game time in the coming weeks with the Reds still competing on three fronts, and the injury to Mamadou Sakho has opened up the opportunity for him to show he has put a difficult start to the season behind him.

If he could have the kind of revival that Mignolet has had in recent weeks then that would be a welcome sight for Liverpool fans, who have bemoaned the lack of defensive solidity in the past 18 months or so.

The defender noticed a change when returning to the side from the start of the season, saying: "When you win games, everyone around you is confident around you, including the defenders. When you come into the team when we are winning, it is easier than when you come into the team and you are losing."

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