Jay Spearing relishing battle for Liverpool place


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The Independent Football

Jay Spearing knows he has a fight on his hands to get back into the Liverpool midfield - and is aiming to showcase his battling qualities in tonight's Carling Cup fourth round clash with Stoke.

Spearing has endured a generally frustrating time of it so far this season, featuring only once as a substitute in the Barclays Premier League.

His chances have been limited by the arrival of players like Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam at Anfield over the summer, but Spearing has made two starts in the Carling Cup, a sequence he hopes will continue when Liverpool travel to the Britannia Stadium this evening.

The 22-year-old is determined to demonstrate his worth to Reds manager Kenny Dalglish, and views the contest against Tony Pulis' uncompromising Potters team as the ideal opportunity to show he can handle a physical assignment.

"It has been a mixed season for me so far," Spearing said.

"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.

"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."

Liverpool have Lucas Leiva available again for tonight's tie after the midfielder completed his one-match suspension.

Dalglish has vowed to field a "very strong" line-up but is expected to make a number of changes from Saturday's 1-1 Premier League draw with Norwich.

Craig Bellamy will be hoping to keep his place having scored against the Canaries, while Daniel Agger made his return from injury as a substitute in that fixture and could be amongst those coming into the team.

"We take it seriously and we'll be going to try to get a result," said Dalglish, whose side lost 1-0 in a league game at Stoke last month.

"It's a trophy - and we'd love to win a trophy at some stage."