Tiago Ilori
Sporting interested in taking Ilori back to Portugal. (Reuters)

Liverpool defender Tiago Ilori could be set for an early return to former club Sporting Lisbon on a loan deal, reports suggest.

The 20-year-old was one of four defenders brought to Anfield this summer, arriving alongside Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho and Aly Cissokho as Brendan Rodgers sought to strengthen his options following the retirement of Jamie Carragher.

Ilori is yet to make his debut for the club after his £7m arrival, however, Rodgers suggested earlier this week the club intend to send him out on loan in order to gain more regular first team opportunities.

Valencia, who were tracking the London-born defender during the summer, have been linked with a loan deal but his former club have also sounded out the possibility of bringing the youngster back to the Estadio Jose Alvalade five months after his departure.

"We have decided to study this subject but it depends on the Reds and formally we have no received any communication," a Sporting source told Sky Sports.

With Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel, Toure and Sakho all vying for a starting berth in Rodgers' first team, Ilori's first team opportunities are likely to drop as the season progresses.

Having already sanctioned loan moves for young defenders Jack Robinson and Andre Wisdom to Blackpool and Derby County respectively, Rodgers envisages a temporary move for Ilori as the logical next step in the youngster's career.

"Young players need time in that area," Rodgers said earlier this week. "He (Ilori) was one that became available. He wasn't overly-priced. He will have six months to adapt and then he will go out and get experience.

"Hopefully in the future, maybe long after I am gone, he can prove to be a talent. That is the responsibility of myself and the club going forward to nurture it."