Sub Carra’s still play­ing ma­jor role

Midweek Sport - - SPORT - By BERNIE LLOYD

JAMIE CAR­RAGHER can’t force his way back into the Liver­pool side – but man­ager Kenny Dal­glish in­sists the ex­pe­ri­enced de­fender’s in­flu­ence is still be­ing felt on the pitch.

The Reds vice-cap­tain, 33, was in­jured in the Car­ling Cup tie at Stoke in Oc­to­ber and, de­spite re­turn­ing to fit­ness, has had to set­tle for a place on the bench.

That’s down to the form of cen­tre-backs Daniel Ag­ger and Martin Skr­tel who in the seven matches Car­ragher has missed have helped keep four clean sheets. Although Dal­glish be­lieves the team are work­ing harder de­fen­sively, he thinks his cur­rent first-choice cen­tre-backs have both ben­e­fited from play­ing along­side Car­ragher.

The Scot said: “I don’t think they have ever looked a bad pair but the both of them are play­ing very well.

Ca­pa­ble

“They know how to play. Jamie be­ing be­side them when they came in at first has been a fan­tas­tic help to them – as he has been for a lot of peo­ple here.

“You can’t un­der-play what Jamie has done for the two of them but they are more than ca­pa­ble of stand­ing on their own two feet.

“Some com­pe­ti­tion is al­ways help­ful but it is not as though the two boys are novices.

“They are sea­soned in­ter­na­tional play­ers – Daniel is go­ing to Euro 2012 with Den­mark.”

On their re­cent good de­fen­sive run, Dal­glish added: “It is not just about cen­tre-backs and full-backs de­fend­ing, it is about ev­ery­one.

“As soon as we lose the ball we start de­fend­ing to­gether and when we have it ev­ery­one can go for­ward if they want.”

While Car­ragher has been frus­trated, Jonjo Shelvey, 19, is try­ing to make the most of his op­por­tu­nity.

In­juries to Steven Ger­rard and Lu­cas Leiva, and sus­pen­sion for Jay Spear­ing, meant he was re­called from a loan spell at Black­pool and he made his first Liver­pool league start at Villa Park on Sun­day.

But Dal­glish warned: “There has to be some re­al­ism in­volved.

“He played re­ally well at As­ton Villa but he is only 19, so just calm down a bit.

“Let him get on with his ca­reer and we will try to de­velop him the best we can here.”

WATCH­ING BRIEF: Ag­ger has kept Car­ragher on the bench

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