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Bilic backs under-fire Liverpool defender Lovren after death threats

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic leapt to the defence of Dejan Lovren after the Liverpool centre-back was subjected to death threats.

Lovren revealed he and his family received a "disgusting" death threat on social media as the Croatia international struggles for form at Anfield this season.

The 28-year-old was substituted just 31 minutes into Liverpool's crushing 4-1 defeat to Premier League rivals Tottenham last month.

And countryman Bilic backed Lovren as West Ham prepare to host Liverpool Saturday.

"Fortunately, that is a minority of people," said Bilic. "Maybe I'm wrong and maybe I'm naive, but I think even those people who did it didn't mean it seriously.

"They weren't joking - it's a bad, bad way of expressing that they're not happy with the way he played.

"But that shouldn't be there. Those people should be ashamed of themselves, big time."

"I'm very, very disappointed with the treatment he has received," Bilic added.

"He's a very good player. He's more than a centre-back. He never hides on the pitch. He's always there.

"A lot of mistakes, sometimes he's making up for somebody else's mistakes. It's not easy to play centre-back at Liverpool because of where they stand.

"Take Real Madrid against Spurs, and they have probably the best centre-back in the world in Sergio Ramos.

"But when he's exposed on such a big space against Dele Alli and Harry Kane, he doesn't look good. It's very hard to play centre-back.

"Lovren's a really good lad, an honest lad. He never asks for any excuses.

"I hope it isn't going to be on Saturday but sooner or later he's going to score a goal like he scored against Borussia Dortmund and he's going to be a hero again.

"That's the nature of society. The people want it straight away, that want it now and they want it tomorrow. But I think Lovren is very strong in his head."