Burnley v Liverpool: Dyche defends Rodgers ahead of Turf Moor test

Burnley manager Sean Dyche has defended his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers ahead of their Premier League meeting on Boxing Day.

Liverpool have thus far failed to recreate their scintillating form of the 2013-14 campaign, and they come into Friday's clash at Turf Moor 10th in the table and without a win in their previous three outings.

Rodgers has come in for criticism in some parts - largely for his work in the transfer market in his attempts to replace the goals of Luis Suarez, who departed for Barcelona.

With last season's second top scorer Daniel Sturridge also absent, through injury, Rodgers' side have struggled to earn consistent results and Dyche expressed his sympathy for his opposite number's position.

"It's a tough one," he said. "How do you define the complexities of management?

"You take the team so far and so quickly last year then lose two players for different reasons, it's very difficult.

"They're still a very talented team so we'll certainly not be taking Liverpool lightly.

"We know the realities of the job. Brendan certainly does, I do. Overall, Brendan has a new-ish group and is trying to mould them into a team. Getting it to work takes time and it is difficult because the demand [for results] is instant."

Following the serious incident involving former Burnley man Clarke Carlisle which left him in hospital on Monday, there will be applause at Turf Moor in the fifth minute - Carlisle's shirt number at Burnley - as a gesture of support for the defender.

The hosts continue to have doubts over Michael Duff (calf), while Matt Taylor (Achilles) and Sam Vokes (knee) are nearing returns but unlikely to feature. Stephen Ward (ankle) is definitely out.

Fabio Borini is suspended for the visitors, who are also without Joe Allen (knock) and Glen Johnson (groin), but Mario Balotelli returns to Liverpool's squad after serving a one-match ban for a controversial social-media post.

While Rodgers is happy to have attacking options returning to his squad, having utilised Raheem Sterling up front recently, the Northern Irishman concedes Balotelli's playing style forces him to alter tactics.

"We've seen it isn't really his game," Rodgers said of the Italian's willingness to press. 

"Working with Mario we see someone who is better in and around the box so that level of intensity and pressing isn't part of his game. 

"You try to get the best out of the players you have and the quality you have."

Brad Jones is likely to continue in goal, though Rodgers was quick to back previous number one Simon Mignolet.

The manager said: "I took him out to give him the chance to reflect and also to allow him to refocus on his game. 

"Players need that at times. It was a really busy period and it was a difficult moment for the team.

"I haven't lost any belief in him. He's still an outstanding goalkeeper, and I'm sure when the time comes for him to return, he'll be a better goalkeeper for it.