Dejan Lovren hopes to commit his long-term future to Liverpool before the end of the season. The Croatian centre-back is currently under contract at Anfield until the summer of 2019 and recent reports claimed talks regarding a potential extension had reopened of late, after initially stalling last year.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo after replacing Ragnar Klavan and making his first senior appearance in two months during Saturday's (1 April) 3-1 victory over Merseyside rivals Everton, Lovren revealed that negotiations over a new deal are continuing and could reach their conclusion over the next four weeks.

"Progress [on the contract] is going on and I'd say that hopefully everything will be clear in the next month," he said. "Like I've said many times about my future, I'm really happy here. I'm settled after everything that happened in the beginning."

On his return following lingering knee and back problems, he added: "I've been working hard, it's been quite tough for me to come back.

"For a month I didn't even train and then when I was back with the team it wasn't so easy. But we defended really well together against Everton and I'm happy about that."

Fears over another injury to Lovren were exacerbated when the former Dinamo Zagreb defemder, who has rescued his reputation under Jurgen Klopp after originally struggling for form in the aftermath of a high-profile £20m ($24.9m) transfer from Southampton in 2014, fell victim to an extremely poor challenge from persistent transgressor Ross Barkley that was only deemed worthy of a yellow card by referee Anthony Taylor.

Angered by the lack of an apology from the hot-headed Everton playmaker, he said: "That is the only thing I do not like. If you make a hard challenge then be open about it and say sorry or something like that. Don't talk to the referee and say it was not a foul. I think everyone saw it, especially me, but now it is over. If I show you [my leg] it will be headlines tomorrow."

Dejan Lovren
Dejan Lovren was restored to Jurgen Klopp's starting XI for the 3-1 win over Everton on Saturday Reuters

Strengthening an oft-maligned defence that has conceded 37 goals in 30 top-flight games so far this term will be a summer priority for Jurgen Klopp and a new centre-back is likely to be top of the list, with converted midfielder Lucas expected to leave the club once his current deal expires in the summer and Mamadou Sakho's future remaining subject to doubt despite a hugely impressive start to his loan spell at Crystal Palace.

Burnley defender Michael Keane, Virgil van Dijk of Southampton and Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson have all been linked with possible moves to Liverpool over recent weeks.