Carragher primed for 'massive' Brighton test


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The Independent Football

The Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher is ignoring the odds ahead of Sunday's FA Cup fifth-round tie with Brighton and expects another tough test against the Championship side.

Kenny Dalglish's side have already squared up to the Seagulls this season when goals from Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt earned them a hard-fought 2-1 Carling Cup third-round victory at the Amex Stadium in September.

The veteran centre-back was at pains yesterday to shrug off the favourites tag with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, knowing that Gus Poyet's dangerous side is more than capable of creating an upset at Anfield.

"There are no easy games in the FA Cup – I can tell you that from the teams we've been knocked out by over the years," Carragher said.

"We've had some bad results against lower league opposition, but that's what makes the FA Cup what it is. That's why it's so special when you do win it because you realise all the pitfalls along the way. It would be disappointing if we were to go out, having knocked Manchester United out of the last round.

"It's a massive game for us and if we win we'll be into the quarter-finals, and if you do well there then you're at Wembley. It certainly keeps the season going for us."

Carragher, who has won two FA Cup winners' medals with Liverpool, knows any side that visits Anfield in the competition does so with a "nothing to lose" mentality, something of which he is especially wary against Brighton.

The 34-year-old was a member of Liverpool sides that have been knocked out of the Cup competition at Anfield, most notably by Crystal Palace, Barnsley and Reading, and he is taking nothing for granted against Brighton.

"We've beaten them before and we would expect to win with the game being at Anfield, but it certainly won't be easy," he said. "The football they played against us [in the Carling Cup game] was outstanding for a team at that level. You don't normally expect that, but that's great credit to their players and to their manager, Gus Poyet, for what a great job he's done with them.

"It will be a tough game, as it was against them in the Carling Cup. They're a very good footballing team and keep possession of the ball well, and that's something that we'll have to try and stop at Anfield.

"Lower league teams can play like they've got nothing to lose when they come to Anfield because they haven't – they've got no fear and they've got no worries. For them it's a win-win situation really, but we're used to that. Most teams we play at Anfield will approach the game like that and there's always pressure on us to produce at home – and rightly so."

Liverpool have impressed in all cup competitions this season, reaching the final of the Carling Cup at the expense of Premier League leaders Manchester City and progressing to the fifth round of the FA Cup after beating Manchester United 2-1.

Carragher believes the Reds' success is down to the respect they have paid to the tournaments. "I put it down to the manager for putting out strong sides from the very beginning [in the Carling Cup] and giving the competition the respect it deserves," he said.

"We're in the [Carling Cup] final and that's what we deserve for how much we've respected the competition.

"In the FA Cup we're only just starting – we've played Manchester United which was a great game for us, while Oldham was difficult for us, 5-1 wasn't a true reflection of the game.

"Hopefully, we can win the Carling Cup, but when that's finished and put to bed we'll still need to be in the FA Cup and keep something else to look forward to at the end of the season."

The former Liverpool player and coach Sammy Lee has admitted that he returns to Bolton Wanderers with unfinished business to take care of.

A former player with the Trotters, Lee replaced Sam Allardyce as manager in 2007. However, he lasted just nine games of the 2007-08 campaign before he was sacked after collecting five points.

He returned to Liverpool for a short spell but now the 53-year-old has returned to Bolton, taking up the position of head of academy coaching.

Lee has revealed he took the job after consultation with the present manager, Owen Coyle, who is under pressure once more following last weekend''s home defeat to Wigan Athletic , which sent them tumbling back into Premier League the relegation zone.

However, he is keen to get started and to help put a few things right. "I've still got some unfinished business here," Lee said. "I was disappointed when it didn't work out as a manager. There were no hard feelings. It is never nice to lose your job and I fully understand the decision had to be taken.

"We didn't have a very good start, so it was inevitable. But the fans were great with me, even through the hard times, and I want to give something back."