Alan Hansen says lack of quality in this area is reason Liverpool are underachieving

The legendary Reds centre-back insists that the club's defence is just not good enough, and criticises Simon Mignolet's inconsistency.

Liverpool legend Alan Hansen has told the Independent that Simon Mignolet's inconsistency in goal and a lack of adequate in defence are the reasons that the club is struggling to compete in the Premier League.

Jurgen Klopp's side are nine points off the top four and have won just two of their last seven Premier League matches, a run of form which has left them in eighth place in the table.

Although Hansen admitted that Mignolet should perhaps be given more time, pointing to David De Gea's change in fortunes at Old Trafford, he criticised the Belgian goalkeeper for his inconsistent displays.

However, the defender-turned pundit, who won eight league titles and three European Cups whilst playing at the heart of defence for the club in the late 1970s and 1980s, pinpointed his old position as the key weakness for the current Reds side.

Hansen told the Independent: "You need a centre-back partnership to be successful and Liverpool have not had one for a number of years. I look at Wes Morgan and Robert Huth at Leicester and how successful they have been. That’s what Liverpool miss.

"The problem with Simon Mignolet is he’ll go on a good run and then a bad run, but the question is whether there is anyone out there who is better. Do you give him more time? If you look at someone like David De Gea, when he was first at Manchester United he was called the worst goalkeeper in the world. Now he’s being called the best in the world.

"The manager will have to be looking at two goalkeepers and a centre-back. But like with the goalkeeper situation I can’t think of too many decent centre-backs out there."

Liverpool have conceded 36 goals in their 26 Premier League matches this season, the joint-highest total of any of the top 14 teams in the division.

Injuries and poor form mean that Klopp has been unable to put together a settled defence since his arrival at Anfield, with none of the club's senior centre-backs - Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Kolo Toure or Mamadou Sakho - playing more than 17 matches in the league.

The Reds face the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Augsburg on Thursday before facing Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday at Wembley.

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