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Premier League

Carragher keen for Europa League place

Defender Jamie Carragher insists critics who claim Liverpool would be better off not qualifying for the Europa League do not understand the club.

Yesterday's 3-0 win at Anfield took the Reds above Tottenham and into fifth place.

Even though Spurs have a game in hand they have to go to Anfield for the penultimate match of the season and Kenny Dalglish's side are now favourites to claim the European spot.

However, because of the upheaval at the club this season, with the change of ownership in October followed by the January removal of Roy Hodgson just six months into the job, many observers and fans believe the Europa League will do more harm than good to the rebuilding process.

It is not a view shared by Carragher, who insists the winning mentality which has returned under Dalglish means the players want to compete for everything.

"I know there is a lot of talk about whether people want us to finish fifth but, for me, Liverpool is European football," said the 33-year-old.

"That's what the club is about, and I'm desperate for us to get it.

"It is another trophy to go for. I'd have loved to have been in Dublin (for this season's final) in a couple of weeks - that would have been fantastic for us and fantastic for the supporters.

"If we keep winning games, we've got a good chance of qualifying, but Tottenham will probably feel the same, and I think (the Spurs game on May 15) will be a great game now.

"It is important for the team to keep winning and maintain the feelgood factor.

"It hasn't been a great 18 months really for the club, it has been tough.

"Now, though, we can start to enjoy ourselves and go into games expecting to win."

Contrary to popular opinion, Carragher thinks being involved in the Europa League - the Champions League looks beyond their reach now with Manchester City seven points ahead with a match in hand - may actually be a help rather than a hindrance.

Liverpool's European campaign this season started on July 29, albeit with a number of fringe players because of the knock-on effect of the World Cup.

The Reds vice-captain believes utilising the whole squad will keep things competitive and harmonious in the early stages of the new campaign.

"Of course I can understand why fans would not want us to be in the Europa League and [as players] playing Thursday and Sunday doesn't give you much time to recover," he added.

"Realistically the manager would use the squad to start with and it would be good for the young players to get European experience as well.

"And I am sure we will be adding some new players to the squad next season so we would have a bigger squad than we have now and more players could be involved, playing more games.

"When you are only playing every Saturday it is difficult to keep players happy because you don't change the team so much so you end up having 10 or 12 unhappy players.

"Sometimes having more games can keep everyone happy at the club."

Carragher is set to become the club's second-highest appearance maker next Monday at Fulham having gone level with Emlyn Hughes and Ray Clemence on 665 against Newcastle.

"It is something to look back on at the end of your career - just to be anywhere near these people is a great honour for me," said the veteran centre-back, who is captaining the team in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard.

"For now I want to look forward, to get more appearances, and hopefully help the club do well and win trophies."

Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez said they had to bounce back from a defensively shaky performance for their final three matches, two of which are at home to Birmingham and West Brom.

"We have to think about the things we did wrong and not repeat them in the future," said the Argentinian.

"We have three games left, and we have a big opportunity to take points, because we have two games at home.

"We now have Birmingham, and we have to be strong. Against Liverpool we didn't have any luck - nothing came off for us.

"We just need to continue to work hard in every game and hopefully we will get the luck in the next few games.

"What happened at Liverpool is disappointing but we can't dwell on it for too long."