Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ablett Throws Down CupGauntlet

Gary Ablett has thrown down a League Cup gauntlet to his young starlets ahead of their clash with Sunderland tonight.

With the Carling Cup third round tie against Crewe Alexandra beckoning at Anfield next Tuesday night, Ablett is hoping the likes of Stephen Darby and Jay Spearing can impress manager Rafael Benitez and give him a selection poser.

The likes of Darby, Spearing, Damien Plessis and Emiliano Insua are expected to be involved against the Black Cats but Krisztian Nemeth is ruled out after picking up a knock on international duty with Hungary.

"I would hope some of the lads might get a chance against Crewe but we know the size of Rafa's first-team squad," Ablett told
"There's about 26 players in his squad now and it's going to be ever so difficult to get an opportunity. There's a lot of players who haven't played on a regular basis so far and they are going to want to play some football.

"Only Rafa knows what his plans are for Crewe and we will just have to wait and see how results go in the meantime.

"It's interesting when you speak to the likes of Carra and Stevie G about how the young lads did during pre-season and they have nothing but praise for them.

"Darby is the captain and one of those lads that would run through a brick wall for this club. He has got a fantastic attitude in training and during the matches. You ask him to do a job for the team and he will never complain. He will just get on with it and do it to the best of his ability which, nine times out of 10, will be a fantastic performance.

"Unfortunately, Nemeth picked up an injury while on international duty with Hungary Under-21s, but he's back in training and hopefully will be ready for a game in a week to 10 days."

Tonight's visit is the second north east trip of the season for Ablett's men after their opening 1-0 win at Middlesbrough. The jaunt to Hetton-Le-Hole is always a poignant visit for any Liverpool side with it being the birthplace of the great Bob Paisley.

The season before Ablett made his senior debut for Liverpool, Paisley was advisor to manager Kenny Dalglish, and as a young boy coming through the ranks he was well aware of just how special the great man was.

"I remember just being totally in awe of the man when you walked past him down the corridor," he added. "You look around Anfield and Melwood now and you see the foundations that Bob and Bill Shankly made. We've got them to be ever so thankful for.

"This club has got fantastic links up in Hetton-Le-Hole with Bob. It's a great chance for some of our young players to know about the history and the personality that Bob was, and what an influence he had on Liverpool."

Sunderland were the last team to beat Liverpool in the Barclays Premier Reserve League North when they won 1-0 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in October 2007. However, Ablett's side got their revenge with a 1-0 win in the return game in Hetton-Le-Hole.

"We were unlucky not to take something out of that game we lost to Sunderland, and I remember Emiliano Insua hitting the bar and their 'keeper making a great save from Jay Spearing," said Ablett.

"When we beat them in the return fixture that was a very difficult game. Sunderland normally play a few seniors against us but it's one we are looking forward to, because we know on our day we can beat anyone.

"It was a bit of magic and strength from Nemeth that won us the game last season. He held their new centre half off and finished with a lob over the goalkeeper. It was a fantastic goal.

"We know teams want to beat us so we need to be prepared and go and play at the best of our ability every time we play. It was a good start for us beating Middlesbrough we want to show everyone what we are capable of again this season."

Spanish teenager Dani Pacheco caught the eye against 'Boro with a man of the match display, and Ablett has promised there is a lot more to come from the 17-year-old this season.

"Dani has had a great start to his career with us," said Ablett. "With him being so young last year we felt it would be more beneficial to let him settle in and keep bring him on as a substitute.

"Rafa gave him a chance with the first team during pre-season and he did particularly well. Our job is to keep him motivated at our level and we saw signs against Middlesbrough that he is quite prepared to do that. He passed the ball as well as I've ever seen him and he made the goal for Jordy.

"The disappointing thing from my point of view is when he went clean through on goal and hit the post. That's something we've got to get into Dani's game, get him scoring more goals but that will happen. He's still young and will keep improving."

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