Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dalglish Happy With Squad Depth

Kenny Dalglish was full of praise for the attitude his fringe players showed in the reserves as they crushed Sunderland's second string 5-1.

First-team squad members Jay Spearing, Sebastian Coates, Jon Flanagan and Danny Wilson were all part of the side watched by the Liverpool boss from the touchline at the Kirby Academy.

Spearing managed to bag a brace, while Coates also found the target as they both made strong cases to be included in the Carling Cup quarter-final against Chelsea next Tuesday.

That clash comes just 48 hours after the Reds face Manchester City at Anfield and Dalglish has intimated he will use squad players in the cup clash.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "They applied themselves very well and they will be better for getting 90 minutes.

"They need to play games and it was good for them to be involved. It's better for them than training.

"Some people look at it as a form of punishment asking them to play for the reserves but that's certainly not the case.

"It was a necessity and it's important we give everyone opportunities to play matches.

"For the likes of Seb and Jay, it gives them the chance to get match fit and they did well. We need a strong squad with players who are ready to step in when they're needed."

Clarke Hails Maxi Impact

Liverpool first-team coach Steve Clarke has hailed the professionalism of Chelsea goalscoring hero Maxi Rodriguez.

The Argentine midfielder had made just one fleeting Premier League substitute appearance this season before being thrust into Kenny Dalglish's starting XI for Sunday's important clash at Stamford Bridge.

His well-taken 33rd-minute strike set the Reds on their way to a 2-1 win and capped an energetic display from the 30-year-old.

But Clarke insists his impressive performance came as a surprise to no-one at Anfield.

He said: "Everybody here knows the qualities of Maxi.

"He's been unfortunate this year that he's not had an extended run in the team, but what it does say about him is that he is a complete professional.

"When you're not in the team, it's difficult to come in every day, work hard and be prepared for your chance. Maxi has worked hard every day in training.

"When Maxi went in, he did a fantastic job for us."

Rodriguez, a £4.5m signing from Atletico Madrid in January 2010, was not the only standout performer as Liverpool earned their second straight win in West London.

Clarke believes the Reds' overall team display emphasized the strength in depth which Dalglish has at his disposal.

"Everybody has spoken about the squad we've got this year. We feel it's an improvement on what we inherited when Kenny and I came to the club," Clarke told the club's official website.

"The squad is stronger this year and I think the weekend proved that. If you look at the bench, it was very strong.

"What you try to create at a club like Liverpool is competition for places. Everybody has that competition for their place now and it can only be helpful for the group going forward."

Irish Winger Linked With Liverpool

Norwich and Republic of Ireland U21 winger Anthony Pilkington has been linked with a shock move to Liverpool.

According to reports, Kenny Dalglish is monitoring him closely following some impressive displays for newly promoted Norwich this season thus far. The 23 year old has been tipped with being an outside inclusion for Giovanni Trappatoni’s Euro 2012 squad despite not having played for Ireland.

Liverpool are searching for direct wingers especially who can deliver a mean cross for the likes of Carroll and Suarez to feed off. Stewart Downing has played most games on the left for the Reds but hasn’t really impressed with Jordan Henderson failing to pin down a spot on the right.

Pilkington was born in Lancashire but has represented Ireland at U21 level but is still eligible for the country of his birth. He was playing League One football last season with Huddersfield before securing a move to the Canaries during the summer. Recent performances including an impressive display at Anfield have obviously caught the attention of other clubs.

He has scored four goals this season already for Norwich and has helped them climb to 11th in the table.

Liverpool Face Competition From Italian Giants For French Starlet

Auxerre defender Willy Boly is attracting interest from some of the biggest names in European football with Liverpool and Inter Milan both heavily linked with the youngster.

The 20-year-old has been a regular at youth level for France and this season has been an almost ever present in the Auxerre side, starting 11 out of the opening 14 league games.

The 6ft 3" centre-back is considered a star in the making in France and has already become an established member of the Ligue 1 side, despite his relative inexperience.

In recent days the Italian press has indicated that there is interest in the player with Gazzetta dello Sport reporting that Inter Milan have been keeping a close eye on the defender.

As well as the Serie A side, Liverpool have also been linked with the youngster as the side's director of football Damien Comolli has a wealth of knowledge of the French league.

Liverpool's transfer policy under their current owners is to identify the best young talent having already signed Jordan Henderson and Sebastian Coates over the summer.

Blackpool Bid To Extend Shelvey's Loan Spell

Blackpool want to extend Liverpool starlet Jonjo Shelvey's loan spell at the club.

Shelvey sealed a loan move to Blackpool at the end of September and has impressed during his stay at Bloomfield Road, scoring six goals in nine appearances.

He netted a stunning hat-trick in Blackpool's 5-0 demolition of Leeds at the start of the month and Ian Holloway is eager to keep him at the club.

Shelvey, 19, has a deal at Blackpool until the start of the January transfer window and Holloway wants to push through a move that would keep the midfielder at the club until the end of the season.

Jose Enrique Won't Let Spain Snub Distract From Liverpool Mission

Jose Enrique admitted being bothered by his omission from the most recent Spain friendlies with England and Costa Rica. But the Liverpool fullback vows not to let it deter him from reaching his goal of leading the Reds' to a top-four finish, according to

"I was a little bit disappointed," Enrique said about missing out on Spain's recent friendlies. "I think I am at one of the best clubs, not just in England but in the world. For me Liverpool is one of the best three in the world alongside AC Milan and Real Madrid.

"But to be honest I don't really think about it too much. My focus is on Liverpool and trying to help us improve. My objective for this season is to help Liverpool play in the Champions League next season."

The 25-year-old Spaniard joined Liverpool from Newcastle last summer in a £6 million ($9.3 million) transfer. His assured performances in 12 English Premier League games have put him among the Reds' top players this season and drawn calls for his inclusion in the Spanish national team.

Enrique has played for his country at the U-16, U-20 and U-21 level, but has yet to break into the senior team. He left his homeland for English soccer in 2007 as an unheralded 21-year-old and has since built a reputation as one of the Premier League's best left backs.

Martin Kelly Hails Quality Of Mentor Glen Johnson

Martin Kelly believes he is lucky to be the understudy of Liverpool team-mate Glen Johnson after the England international's match-winning goal against Chelsea on Sunday.

Johnson's late strike against his former club in the clash at Stamford Bridge secured a 2-1 victory for Kenny Dalglish's side, and Kelly has stated that he is happy to be learning from the experienced right-back.

Kelly told the club’s official website: "If you had seen the reaction on the bench, we were all nearly on the pitch when Glen scored.

"We were all made up in the changing room, applauding him.

"It was a brilliant goal and I think we deserved it for the way we set about our game play. We deserved the win at Stamford Bridge, and it was a great win.

"At this moment in time, I am the understudy to Glen. I am still young and to watch a player like that is only good for me.

“Whenever called upon, I've played well in that position as well as across the back four.

"It's good for Glen to be playing and pushing on in the England side, and it's brilliant for me to be watching him in training and learning from him."

The youngster also outlined the ambition of Dalglish’s side after the impressive win in west London, claiming they are ready to welcome league leaders Manchester City to Anfield this weekend.

"There is a buzz about the place. We beat Chelsea home and away last year, and we've beaten them this year," he continued.

"It's better going into the game on Sunday with that win and we'll definitely try and do our best, and do it for all the supporters and ourselves.

"If you look at our team and the strengths we've got, we're definitely a top-four team. It's about gelling and getting the results at home against the so-called lower teams. Every game now in the Premier League is difficult and we can only look at one game at a time.

"We were delighted with the win at Chelsea - we'll take that into our training this week and try and get the win at home to City.

"We're always looking to get better from our performances and if you ask all the lads, the boss and the coaching staff, we want to improve on everything, Liverpool won't settle for second best.

"We work a lot in training on our team shape and gelling together, and you could tell at Chelsea we did it as a team and we won as a team."

Dalglish To Sell International Midfielder In Summer

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish looks certain to draw a close to the protracted transfer saga involving Italian international Alberto Aquilani, who is currently on a temporary loan deal with AC Milan after failing to settle at Anfield.

Aquilani joined the Reds back in 2009 for a fee believed to be in the region of £17 million, after establishing himself as one of the most competent midfielders in Europe with his form at previous club Roma.

However, Aquilani failed to settle into life in England’s northwest, making just eighteen appearances for Liverpool before seeking a return to his native Italy. A brief spell on loan at Juventus could not facilitate a permanent switch, and Aquilani briefly returned to Anfield before orchestrating a move to AC Milan.

Since joining Milan, Aquilani has been in impressive form, and his agent Franco Zavaglia now believes that the midfielder – who has been capped 21 times for Italy – will move permanently once Milan activate the buy-out clause in his loan deal.

“We can without doubt consider Milan activating the buy-out clause to be a pure formality,” Zavaglia revealed. “Especially as he’ll soon reach the written parameters set by Milan and Liverpool.

“Alberto is doing well and I think this is clear for all to see.”