The 30-year-old goalkeeper has struggled by his commanding standards for 18 months and his performances prompted Rodgers to speak to him earlier in the season about how he fitted into Liverpool's new style. Reina has responded with extra training at Melwood, losing a significant amount of weight and, as Rodgers put it, "now he is committed to the plan of what we are all trying to do".
Reina's form has been encouraging since returning from a seven-match absence with a hamstring strain and Rodgers, speaking before their Europa League group game at Udinese on Thursday night, believes the keeper can remain No1 at Anfield for the next three years of his contract. Rodgers also revealed that Liverpool are to offer Brad Jones an extension to his contract, which expires at the end of the season, to keep him as No2.
The Liverpool manager said: "I want to make it 150% clear because I have read about goalkeepers being linked and Pepe leaving. This is a guy who is in a really good moment. He is the No1 keeper for Liverpool. He will admit himself that he has had a difficult couple of years but he now has a sense that his best years are in front of him, not behind him. It is a great testament to him that he is now working harder than ever, he has lost weight, he looks fresh, he looks bright, he is doing extra work and it is a great step forward to him and his commitment in terms of him staying at Liverpool.
"He has three years left on his contract and I think he has his best years ahead of him. Now he is committed to the plan of what we are all trying to do, which is to fight every single day, and there is nobody fighting harder than him at the minute so I am not on the look-out for anyone. He is a wonderful guy, a real team player, and we have seen in the last number of games that he is getting up to speed and he will be a very important part of how we work." Rodgers has a strong squad in Italy for a tie that Liverpool must win to guarantee qualification for the knock-out phase. A draw would do if Young Boys do not beat Anzhi Makhachkala. Steven Gerrard, who took ill ahead of the trip, Daniel Agger, who is being managed through games and Lucas Leiva, who only returned from a three-month absence on Saturday, are the only absentees from the team that beat Southampton. All are expected to return at West Ham United on Sunday.
"It is in our hands and that is all we could ask for," said Rodgers of the tie. "This has been my first opportunity to work in Europe as a manager. I, along with my staff and players, have enjoyed every minute of it. We all want to qualify. I am not crying that we have games on a Thursday and a Sunday. I have really enjoyed travelling and seeing our supporters come with us. If we can get through, it would be brilliant."
Udinese (4-4-1-1, probable): Brkic; Faraoni, Benatia, Danilo, Pasquale; Pereyra, Badu, Pinzi, Armero; Fabrrini; Ranegie.
Liverpool probable Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Carragher, Enrique; Henderson, Allen, Sahin; Shelvey, Suárez, Sterling
Subs from: Jones, Cole, Assaidi, Coates, Downing, Suso, Coady, Wisdom.
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