Raheem Sterling has told his Liverpool team-mates they cannot use the Champions League as an excuse for poor performances in the Premier League.
The Merseysiders marked their first return to Europe’s marquee club competition after a five-year exile with a dramatic, late 2-1 win against Ludogorets but lost both domestic games either side of their Group B opener.
Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to West Ham United came just seven days after a 1-0 setback against Aston Villa at Anfield and was the club’s third reverse this season.
Defeat against Sam Allardyce’s men at the Boleyn Ground means the Reds are now seven points adrift of leaders Chelsea and 19-year-old England forward Sterling – who scored against the east Londoners – warned there can be no excuses.
“We can’t use playing in the Champions League as an excuse because there are other teams in the Premier League doing exactly the same as us who are winning games,” Sterling told the Liverpool Echo.
“The games are coming thick and fast but that’s what we want – to be competing at the top end of the Premier League and in the Champions League.”
He added: “What it means now is that after the second recovery day after a game we’re straight back into another game. That’s the way it’s going to be this season and that’s something we need to get used to.”
Striker Daniel Sturridge is expected to return for Liverpool in Saturday’s crucial Merseyside derby against Everton and Sterling said he could provide the spark for the side to get back on track in the Premier League.
“Daniel is a massive miss for us with his goals and the way he plays in behind defenders,” added Sterling. “Him coming back should add another dimension to the team.”
Liverpool are currently priced 1.82 in the match betting and the draw is quoted 3.77. The Everton away win outcome is available to back at 3.92.