Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has admitted that Brendan Rodgers splashing the cash on defensive reinforcements made him step up his game.
The Slovakian international has been an integral part of the Reds' team in their surge up the table this season and despite the manager spending close to £42m on defenders in the last two seasons, which saw the arrival of Mamadou Sakho, Thiago Ilori in 2013 and Dejan Lovren from Southampton last summer, Skrtel has been Rodgers' go to man at the heart of the defence.
Skrtel, who joined the Merseyside club in 2008, has fallen down the pecking order during his time, but has always managed to play himself back into the manager's plans and at present he is ahead of all the other central defenders in the squad.
The 30-year-old believes that it was the arrival of the new players that pushed to him to train harder and insists that it is the same for all players at the club and not only defenders.
"I think that it's only a good thing when new players come into the team," Skrtel said, as quoted by Liverpool Echo.
"It makes you feel the pressure to make you work even harder, it pushes you to work very hard and do your best in every single session."
"That is the key for every single player, not only the defenders," the Slovakian international added.
The Northern Irishman preferred to employ Skrtel in the centre of his back three, but with the Slovakian being suspended for the last three games, the manager had reverted to a back four for the games against Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.
But the defender is unconcerned by the manager's plans for the upcoming semi-final against Aston Villa, as he feels there is not much difference for him if he is playing as part of a back three or four.
"The manager changed the formation and we started playing well but for me as a defender it is not a big difference if you are playing in a three or the four," he explained.
"The first thing for you is defending and trying to protect your goal, and trying to stop them from scoring goals."
"We have seen the system with the three at the back was working for us and we will see for the future if we stick with it or change again," Skrtel concluded.