Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dalglish Welcomes Johnson Back

Kenny Dalglish is delighted to have Glen Johnson back in his plans, with the full-back having made his Premier League return on Saturday.

With just nine minutes of top flight action under his belt prior to the weekend, Johnson came through a 90-minute outing against Norwich unscathed.

The England international has handed Dalglish something of a selection dilemma at right-back, with Martin Kelly having shone in his absence, but the Scot is delighted to have such strength in depth.

"It's great to have him (Johnson) back," the Reds boss told the club's official website.

"It's a wee bit unfortunate on Martin Kelly that Glen went in and played, but it just shows you the quality of people we have in the squad and that's what we want.

"Glen certainly did well and it might have been a wee bit of a risk to put him back in as early as that, but he had around 65 minutes at Ibrox (against Rangers) and that helped him.

"We're delighted to see him back and also have a wee bit of heavy heart for Kells as well."

Johnson and Kelly will be vying for a starting berth once again in midweek, with Liverpool set to face Stoke in the Carling Cup fourth round on Wednesday.

The Reds have seen off Exeter and Brighton in the competition so far this term and Dalglish is planning to stick with a winning formula.

He said: "I think we've said after both games about the players' attitude and commitment.

"We've made several changes for both games - and the way they went about their work was a great reflection on the pride they have in themselves and also the football club.

"It will be the same for us at Stoke. They are a Premier League club and we'll put a very strong team out again - and we expect the same level of commitment and effort from the players.

"We cannot guarantee anything other than we're going to work hard to try and get a result - and we don't try and kid anybody that we're trying to underestimate the tournament.

"We take it seriously and we'll be going to try and get a result. It's a trophy - and we'd love to win a trophy at some stage."

Liverpool are close to full strength ahead of their date with the Potters, with back-up keeper Alexander Doni set to figure despite dislocating his finger in a friendly date with Rangers last week.

The Scot said: "It's more or less the same as what we had before. Danny Wilson and Jack Robinson are the only two, and Brad Jones has a thigh injury.

Liverpool Leading The Chase To Sign Swedish Defender

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is preparing to make a move for highly rated AIK defender Alex Milosevic, according to reports in the Scottish Sun.

Milosevic is regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in Europe and a host of Premier League clubs including Tottenham and Arsenal are keeping tabs on the defender as well as Scottish giants Celtic and Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen.

However it is believed that Liverpool is leading the race to acquire the 19-year-old's signature.

Speaking about the interest in Milosevic, Jens Andersson an AIK spokesman said: "Alex is a player who has created a lot of interest.

"Out of respect for the clubs, I won't talk about them by name. But there is a lot of interest in him around Europe.

"He's still under contract with us, but football is a business."

It is believed that a bid of around £2million will be enough for Liverpool to land the services of Milosevic, who has represented the Sweden Under 21's on six occasions and it is felt Dalglish is preparing to make a move when the January transfer window opens.

Liverpool Set To Miss Out On South American Starlet

Liverpool look set to miss out on the signing of Peru teenage sensation Andy Polo after his agent revealed he is set for a move to Germany.

Polo, just 17, is rated one of the best young talents in South America and has been strongly linked with a move to England following his superb displays for his club side Universitario de Deportes.

But Liverpool will have to look elsewhere after his agent Borja Gonzalez revealed that he should complete a move to Hamburg or Shalke in the next 48 hours.

Gonzalez said: "There are two clubs in Germany who are very interested in Andy and there is a very close agreement.

"In the next 48 hours they have to call me and tell me they want to do the deal. If all goes well on Thursday or Friday we should be close. Andy Polo will play in Europe next year."

Spearing Targets Reds Recall

Jay Spearing has vowed to win his place back in the Liverpool side and insists he is ready to face Stoke in the Carling Cup if selected.

The miniature dynamo has seen his chances in midfield restricted this term, as Kenny Dalglish recruited a number of players who could play in that position over the summer.

However, the intensity of his training levels has not dropped as he bids to prove he is deserving of a place in the team.

"It has been a mixed season for me so far," Spearing said ahead of Wednesday's game against Stoke.

"With the new players that have come in I haven't had as many chances as I would have liked, but at the end of the day it's down to me to keep working hard every day in training, and show the manager I deserve a chance when the time comes.

"I have to look at the positive side of things. The boss has put me on the bench for every Premier League game so far and I have played in the Carling Cup games, so I can't complain about that."

Spearing could be selected for the fourth round Carling Cup clash as Dalglish seeks to reinvigorate the team after their 1-1 draw with Norwich at Anfield.

He added: "I've got to do everything I can in training to show the boss I am ready if he needs me to play against Stoke.

"If I do get the chance to play it will be a massive game for me.

"They have a lot of six-foot-plus lads in their team and it's a chance for me to show that I can be put up against anyone, of stature and size, whoever, and do a good job for the team."

Kenny Hails Bellamy Maturity

Craig Bellamy has earned praise for his attitude from Kenny Dalglish as he settles into his second stint at Liverpool.

The Welsh striker rejoined the Reds over the summer following a spell with Manchester City, and is now looking to establish himself as a key player in the side.

He has not been playing regularly so far this term, although he did start against Norwich on Saturday and scored in a 1-1 draw.

Dalglish insists Bellamy has not been getting down about his lack of playing time, and has instead been showing a great level of maturity.

The 32-year-old struggled with this aspect of his game during a season at Anfield earlier in his career, and Dalglish has been impressed with how far he has come.

"Craig is more mature and better educated now," the Liverpool boss said in the Daily Star.

"He would be happier if he was playing more, but he understands the situation maybe more than when he was younger.

"He knows everyone respects him here and that is a big thing for him."

Bellamy could be given another run-out on Wednesday night when Liverpool travel to Stoke for a Carling Cup fourth round tie.

Dalglish said: "We have put out strong Carling Cup teams and it will be the same at Stoke."

Gerrard Behind Harry For England

Steven Gerrard believes Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has proved himself a worthy candidate to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager next year.

Capello will step down from the post after the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine next summer, having taken the helm in 2008.

Three Lions midfielder Gerrard believes the Football Association should appoint an English manager in his place, with Redknapp already tipped as a favourite for the role.

And the Liverpool captain feels the Spurs boss, as well as "two or three" other English candidates, would be a good fit.

"There are very good English managers out there," Gerrard, who was speaking on behalf of the England Footballers Foundation at an event at Knowsley Safari Park, told Sky Sports News.

"Harry Redknapp's name crops up a lot and he's done an unbelievable job. I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for what he's done at Tottenham.

"There's also maybe two or three other candidates along with Harry.

"I don't see why we should have to look abroad if the English managers are good enough to do it, which I believe they are.

"But, for me, it's always the case of picking the best manager that can bring success for the country."

Gerrard is hoping England can give Capello a good send-off by doing well at the Euros after a woeful World Cup campaign last summer.

"I've enjoyed working with Fabio since he's been here," he said.

"If I'm selected to go in the summer my attitude will be to give everything for the manager knowing that it is his last tournament.

"They'll be nothing better than to send him away with a smile on his face and have a successful tournament."

He added: "For the players and the staff at this level you've always got to treat a tournament like it is your last one because you never know if you're going to be involved two years or four years down the line.

"As far as your performances go you've got to try and leave everything out there and give everything you've got."

The Reds skipper hopes the mix of youth and experience in Capello's squad will stand them in good stead for the tournament.

He said: "There's a fine blend of young, exciting players coming through and there's still some good old ones about as well so hopefully we've got the right balance in the squad going into the summer tournament."

Flanno Goes Back To His Roots

Jon Flanagan was the guest of honour as Liverpool FC's half-term soccer school kicked off in style at the Academy on Monday afternoon.

The full-back joined star-struck youngsters for a fun-packed session as he became the first player to officially make an appearance at one of the events.

The 18-year-old hot-footed it to Kirkby from a pre-Stoke City training session at Melwood and was keen to tell just why he felt privileged to have been invited along.

Flanagan said: "It's a great feeling to be back here where it all started for me. These soccer schools are a fantastic way for young kids to develop their skills as a footballer.

"I'd have loved to have come along to one of these when I was a little lad. This is the only soccer school that is based at a football club's Academy and the facilities here are exceptional.

"I just hope they all enjoy it and go away from the course having learned something."

Flanagan's appearance capped a great start to a three-day course that caters for children aged from five-14 years.

Head coach for Liverpool's international football academy soccer schools, Adam Flynn was delighted to welcome the England U21 star and claimed it would be a day the youngsters would always remember.

"Jon is the first first-team player to make an official appearance at our soccer school," he said. "It was fantastic that he put aside the time to come down and impart some words of wisdom to the young kids.

"I think he has been here since the age of eight so it's nice that he is coming back to the place where it all began for him and is helping to make it a special day for these aspiring youngsters.

"He's a fantastic role model for them and embodies what our message is all about; to enjoy playing football and to give it your all. If we can pass on the Liverpool way to these kids then we are doing our job right."

Chinese Duo Make Their Mark

Academy manager Steve Cooper has heaped praise on the Chinese duo currently enjoying a week-long trial at Liverpool.

Long Chen, 16, and Chen Xiao Mao, 14, have already made their mark on the training pitch and Cooper admits he has been pleasantly surprised by what they have been able to offer.

Cooper told "It's been a pleasure to work with them to be honest. They are two good lads.

"First and foremost, they've done everybody associated with them proud with the way they have conducted themselves.

"They've done well on the training pitch too. Obviously there is a bit of language barrier, but they've got around that and got heavily involved in our training sessions.

"Technically they are both more than competent. They may be different in stature - one is quite tall and one is quite small - but they both have physical attributes and they are good players, there's no doubt about that.

"Our lads have welcomed them too. The Chinese boys speak very little English but they've still got involved and made a good impression."

He added: "They've got a few days left of their trial and we are still very much looking at them.

"Stuart (Webber), Frank (McParland) and Damien (Comolli) will all want our opinions from a coaching point of view and then they will make any decisions accordingly.

"It has been very interesting to take a look at them and you can see why the two lads were brought in to begin with."