Jones wary of relying on duo

First-team run ... Liverpool's Brad Jones (Getty Images)

Goalkeeper Brad Jones admits Liverpool's fringe players 'got a kick up the backside' from the Capital One Cup appearance of captain Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez but insists it does not want to rely on the duo to get it out of trouble.

The pair were sent on at half-time to improve a woeful opening 45 minutes but they still could not prevent Swansea City winning 3-1 to end the Reds' defence of their title.

Manager Brendan Rodgers has tried to shield his star players from the rigours of the lesser competitions but, like in the UEFA Europa League at home to Udinese, he had to summon them from the bench with a side showing nine changes trailing 1-0 having failed to deliver.

"The fact other players were getting a run in the cup was good because we were performing well with players who were not playing regularly in the league and that was a bonus," said Jones.

"A few players came in and got minutes, which was good, but it took us 45 minutes to get going and by that time it was too late as they had a grip on the game.

"In the end it took Stevie and Luis coming on to spark the game up and for the team playing in the cups you don't really want them coming on, you want to do it yourself.

"It is a difficult one. Stevie is an icon for the club and he carries the club sometimes.

"Them coming on just gave us that spark, it made the other players pick up, the tempo was quicker and passing was crisper and we controlled the game better.

"Whether that was through them specifically or whether it was the other players upping it because the manager had basically had a go at us at half-time and sent them on.

"But it was the kick up the backside to let everyone know things weren't going well and we needed to get moving."

Rodgers admitted he had no other option than to throw on Gerrard and Suarez - shortly followed by exciting youngster Raheem Sterling - as a lack of significant depth in the squad left him short of alternatives.

"That is the reality of where the club is at," said the Reds boss.

"I would have loved to have kept them on the side to give them a breather but obviously when you need them you need to put them on.

"The problem then is your squad becomes even thinner: I can't keep playing Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, who is my only striker.

"That will evolve over time, it is a team thing and we can't rely on two players.

"Over the next couple of transfers windows we'll get time to build the group."

Jones is enjoying his longest run in the team as first-choice Jose Reina makes his return from a hamstring injury which has kept him out for four matches.

Conceding three to Swansea looked bad but Jones, overall, had a decent night and showed his worth with three saves in quick succession in the second half.

"For me I hate letting goals in and it might take some time to look back on it," said the Australia international.

"We were chasing the game and maybe we were a bit naive with the second, pushing on too much too early, and the third goal is irrelevant as it was a cup game and everyone had pushed on.

"The second goal was disappointing because there was enough time left and we were creating chances we didn't need to go that gung-ho trying to get the equaliser.

"We are disappointed as we wanted to progress.

"The feeling we got last season with going to Wembley and lifting the trophy was a fantastic day. It was something we wanted to replicate.

"Now we have to move on and ensure our league form continues on a higher level."

Midfielder Lucas Leiva is set for a return from a thigh injury later this month, according to Rodgers.

The Brazil international has played just four times this season having been sidelined since November after an cruciate knee ligament operation.

"Lucas has been out on the field in the last week or so which is great," the Reds boss told the Liverpool Daily Post.

"He's not doing multi-directional movements yet but he's doing a lot of straight-line running and endurance work.

"I'm anticipating maybe another three weeks but his professionalism is great and he'll get back probably sooner than is anticipated."