Saturday, April 09, 2011

Liverpool Must Rise Above Injury Woes, Says Kenny Dalglish

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish admits the resilience of his squad may be stretched to the limit by their current injury problems but that will not excuse any drop-off in performances.

Dalglish's fears were confirmed when captain Steven Gerrard, having already been sidelined for a month after a groin operation, was ruled out for the rest of the campaign with an associated injury sustained in training a week ago.

Having lost influential centre-back Daniel Agger to a knee problem in midweek and with full-backs Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly a month away from fitness because of hamstring strains it appears a long season is starting to catch up with the Reds.

Their involvement in the Europa League meant they kicked off, under the leadership of now departed boss Roy Hodgson, with a first competitive match on July 29.

Although many of the first-teamers were used sparingly in that competition the cumulative effect of a difficult season seems now to be conspiring against Dalglish in his bid to catch fifth-placed Tottenham and qualify for Europe again.

"Anybody getting injured is disappointing for us, but also disappointing for the players," said the 60-year-old Scot.

"We know where we stand and we have to get on with it.

"It may be stretching the resolve of the players a little bit but we've got to go right to the limit and make sure we're not feeling sorry for ourselves because we've lost three or four players through injury.

"We've just got to get on with it and accept that's the position we're in. It's up to us to make the best of it."

Gerrard will undergo further assessment in order to get to the root of a problem which robbed the England midfielder of his best form over the last few months.

It was testament to the 30-year-old he was able to get through as many matches he did when obviously not 100% but it impacted on his influence.

That was highlighted in what turned out to be his final game of the season in the 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield on March 6 when he was barely noticeable.

The only up-side of his continued lay-off is that it affords the opportunity for a solution to be found to what has been a troublesome injury problem in time for him to start next season pain-free.

In Gerrard's absence 22-year-old academy graduate Jay Spearing has seized his chance, having his best game for the club in last month's win at Sunderland.

Dalglish hopes others, like 19-year-old defender Danny Wilson who was signed from Rangers last summer, will have a similar opportunity to benefit.

"Jay is an experienced youngster but he was in last week (against West Brom) any way and was in against Everton (back in January) before he fractured a bone in his foot," said the Reds boss.

"Out of somebody's misfortune always comes good fortune for somebody else.

"For certain players they'll be closer to getting a game in the first team than what they would have been if the lads had been fit."

Liverpool Lose Steven Gerrard For The Season

Steven Gerrard's injury-plagued season has come to a premature end, Kenny Dalglish has confirmed, with Liverpool and England now waiting to discover whether he requires a second groin operation in two months.

The Liverpool captain will miss the end of a trying club campaign plus England's European Championship qualifier with Switzerland on 4 June having suffered a setback in his recovery from surgery in training seven days ago. Gerrard has made only 24 appearances for Liverpool this term and not enjoyed a consecutive run of more than six games due to injury and suspension.

Gerrard underwent surgery to repair his damaged groin only four weeks ago and a second operation has not been ruled out. "Until we find out from the specialists we cannot say anything definitive and it would be wrong for us to say what the situation is or mislead anybody," Dalglish said. "It is best to wait until we know exactly what the problem is and then we will decide whether it is surgery or not."

The 30-year-old has suffered groin problems throughout his career but the Liverpool manager refused to speculate on whether this season's injury record is a cause for long-term concern. "We just have to wait and see. It would be irresponsible of us to pre-judge anything," he said. "It's in a similar area but it's not the same injury so we'll just have to wait and see."

With Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly both also out for up to three weeks with hamstring injuries Liverpool's resources, particularly in defence, will be severely stretched for the visit of Manchester City on Monday. But Dalglish believes the club must continue to pursue European qualification for next season and could, he hopes, take advantage of City's impending FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United.

The Liverpool manager said: "This football club is better than sixth but we've got to prove that on the pitch and we've got to set our ambitions higher than that. It will be a difficult test against City. They had a convincing win over us in the second game of the season but maybe they will be focused more on the semi-final. Sometimes when you can see a trophy at the end of your season your concentration wavers a little bit."

Liverpool Admit They Cannot Pinpoint Gerrard's Injury Problem

Liverpool have admitted that the groin injury sustained by captain Steven Gerrard is somewhat of an unknown quantity.

The England midfielder had an operation on his groin in early March and was set to return to action last weekend against West Bromwich Albion but tweaked something at training and is now set to spend the rest of the season on the sidelines.

Reds boss Kenny Dalglish said that the problem was something they aren't quite aware of just yet and also said that those not available for selection are basically redundant and should not be focused on.

"We still don't know definitively what the problem is," said Dalglish.

"We will wait to get a precise answer from the people that he has to see but he won't be involved again this season.

"It is a blow to anyone but it's more disappointing for the players than it is for us, obviously.

"We just have to get on with it and without being disrespectful to the players who are injured the most important ones are the ones who are fit.

"They are the ones who can be chosen. At this particular moment in time I'm as good a player as Steven."

Liverpool Owners Deny Plans To Buy 'Token' Players In The Summer

Liverpool's owners have rubbished suggestions that they will buy 'token' players in the summer in a bid to crack the Asian market.

Fenway Sports Group president Sam Kennedy told BBC News that the Reds will not be signing any players just to sell T-shirts, and that any new arrivals will be based on footballing talent rather than marketability.

'In 2007, the Red Sox signed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka out of Japan, and everyone suggested that this was being done for business reasons," said the FSG chief.

'But any player that we sign for the Red Sox or for Liverpool will be signed for their impact on the sports field, not business reasons.

'Winning on the field comes first, and business issues come second. Business supports the activities on the playing field.'

Club sponsors Standard Chartered recently indicated that the Merseysiders should cash-in on the Far East market by signing an Asian player.

FSG also confirmed that the wheels are in motion to appoint a permanent manager at Anfield, and hinted what many people already know - that Kenny Dalglish is a serious front-runner.

'The conversations are happening now with the appropriate people - Ian Ayre (managing director), Damien Comolli (director of football) and the ownership,' said Kennedy.

'But I do think he (Dalglish) has provided a great lift. He is a wonderful man, and he is passionate about the club.'

Barca Star Opens Door To Summer Move

Barcelona star Ibrahim Afellay is due for talks over his future at the Nou Camp having been left frustrated by a lack of action in the team.

Liverpool was keen on the Dutchman before he moved to Barcelona in January but things have not worked out for him.

Midfielder Afellay, 25, has failed to command a regular place in the Barcelona team and has been largely restricted to a handful of cameo appearances.

And with Liverpool among those monitoring his plight in Spain, talkSPORT understands Afellay will speak with officials at the Nou Camp regarding his future in the coming weeks and if there are no assurances over his future, he will be free to leave this summer.

Liverpool To Make Sensational £15m Bid For Tottenham Winger

Liverpool will make an audacious bid to sign Tottenham Hotspur winger Aaron Lennon this summer for £15million.

Reds’ manager Kenny Dalglish is desperate to sign players to give his side more natural width and supply the new strikeforce of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.

He sees the 23-year-old as the ideal signing as his pace would be a great quality in the Scot’s view of playing a counter-attacking style.

Lennon has endured a stop-start season through injury, scoring three goals and two assists in 27 games.

Dalglish will hope to take advantage of the controversy surrounding Lennon’s late withdrawal from Tottenham’s line-up against Real Madrid in the Champions league.

The winger was said to have fallen ill just minutes before the teams were about to emerge at the Bernabeu for the quarter-final.

Lennon was angry at this, claiming through Twitter he told the medical staff days before the game of his illness and was unhappy being made into the scapegoat following the 4-0 thrashing.

Manager Harry Redknapp has publicly supported his star but privately has misgivings about Lennon’s ability to handle the big occasion.

Liverpool Make €13M Move For Fiorentina’s Juan Manuel Vargas

Liverpool look to have made a €13M bid for Fiorentina’s left winger Juan Manuel Vargas. Reports from Italy suggest the Reds have contacted La Viola to put forward what they hope will be an attractive offer for the Peru international.

However, Vargas is highly rated by Fiorentina and the 27-year-old is valued substantially higher by the Serie A side, meaning Liverpool will likely have to improve on their current bid should they wish to bag the player this summer. As a starting gambit however, the bid is important and solidifies the Reds’ interest in Vargas.

Vargas joined Fiorentina in 2008, making the switch from Catania for €12M, with La Viola beating off competition from Real Madrid.

In Florence, the 27-year-old has continued his progression, becoming a major attacking threat and being lauded for his crossing ability, with former AC Milan striker and current team-mate Alberto Gilardino dubbing the Peruvian the best crosser of a ball he has played with.

Wilson Thanks Kenny For Chance

Liverpool defender Danny Wilson has thanked Kenny Dalglish for his willingness to give young players a chance in the first team.

Wilson was signed from Rangers last summer with a view to being a player for the future but injuries and an extended Europa League campaign have seen him drafted into the squad and also the team on a few occasions.

The 19-year-old, who has had to play out of position at left-back instead of the centre, was pressed into action last weekend in the defeat at West Brom after injuries to Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger.

He has a chance of starting against Manchester City at Anfield on Monday, although that may depend on whether Fabio Aurelio is deemed match fit having returned to training last week after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.

"With Kenny it's good for players like me to see the manager is willing to put young players in the side on a regular basis," said Wilson.

"His attitude seems to be 'If you're good enough, you're old enough'.

"Since he's come in he's given me four games and I'm happy with that.

"Some of the young lads have also had a chance too. It's up to us to take those opportunities."

With the injuries affecting the squad Dalglish admits some fringe players are going to get a chance.

"Out of somebody's misfortune always comes good fortune for somebody else," said the Reds boss.

"For certain players they'll be closer to getting a game in the first team than what they would have been if the lads had been fit."

For Wilson this season has been a learning curve and he has been closely watching veteran defender Jamie Carragher, who moved up to fourth in the club's all-time appearance list after his 661st run-out last weekend.

"The way he works, his professionalism and his approach to training is second to none, so it's not really a surprise to hear he's played that many times," he told LFC Weekly.

"When you see him every day you see how good he is and how he's got himself to where he is.

"He's an example of what a young player needs to do."

Liverpool Legend Makes Anfield Return

Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has made a sensational return to his former club after a spell playing in the Australian A-League.

The ex-Reds striker who now plays for Perth Glory has been training with Liverpool in a bid to maintain his fitness during the close-season.

With the new campaign not due to start until October, Fowler has joined the backroom staff at League One side MK Dons, and will also spend time at League Two Bury assisting caretaker manager Richie Barker in a coaching capacity.

But despite having taken some steps towards becoming a coach after he retires, Liverpool's former No.9 is set to play out one more season in Australia before hanging up his boots once and for all.

Anfield coach Pep Segura spoke of his great admiration for Fowler who displayed a 'great attitude' as he trained with the reserve team squad yesterday.

"It is beneficial to Robbie because we can help him stay sharp. He is a professional and his behaviour on the pitch was fantastic."

And the Spaniard believes that Robbie's presence can have a significant impact on Liverpool's promising youngsters.

"Everybody responded well and it was a great moment for them to have the chance to train with a Liverpool legend.

"His attitude was great and he was the perfect example for our lads. He will train with us again and could be with us for the week that follows."

Liverpool Owners Reveal Talks With Kenny Dalglish Over Long-Term Deal Began Weeks Ago

Liverpool opened talks with Kenny Dalglish over the permanent managerial position three weeks ago, a senior official at Fenway Sports Group, the consortium who own the Anfield side, has confirmed.

The Scot was appointed on a temporary basis after succeeding Roy Hodgson in January and, despite Liverpool’s vastly improved form in the Premier League and a groundswell of support among the club’s fans, has yet to be given the job full-time.

It had been feared FSG — who had been expected to confirm Dalglish’s ascension after promoting Damien Comolli to director of football and Ian Ayre to managing director last month — were wavering over whether to hand Dalglish the post, but Sam Kennedy, the group’s president, insists nothing could be further from the truth.

“The conversations are happening now with the appropriate people,” he said. “Ian Ayre, Damien Comolli and the ownership. But I do think [Dalglish] has provided a great lift. He is a wonderful man, passionate about the club.”

That lift will be required to steer Liverpool through the final seven games of their season with little or nothing left to play for, beyond pride, and without Steven Gerrard, their captain, ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a groin injury.