Sub Carra’s still playing major role
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.
“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