Carragher keeps it tight – even when on the bench

Dalgish pays tribute to veteran defender's input as Agger and Skrtel excel in central defensive roles

The Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher may currently be unable to win back his place in the first team, but manager Kenny Dalglish believes the experienced defender's influence is still being felt on the pitch.

The Bootle-born former academy graduate, who turns 34 next month, was injured in the Carling Cup tie at Stoke City in late October and, despite returning to fitness, has had to settle for a place on the bench.

That is a result of the form of centre-backs Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel who, in the seven matches Carragher has missed, have helped keep four clean sheets with the team conceding just three goals.

More of the same will be expected tonight at Wigan as the League's meanest defence comes up against the joint-worst scorers in the top flight. Agger and Skrtel have obviously clicked as a pairing and, although Dalglish believes the team are working harder defensively, he thinks his current first-choice centre-backs have both benefited from playing alongside Carragher.

"I don't think they have ever looked a bad pair but the both of them are playing very well," said the Scot. "They know how to play. Jamie being beside them when they came in at first has been a fantastic help to them, as he has been for a lot of people here. You can't under-play what Jamie has done for the two of them but they are more than capable of standing on their own two feet.

"Competition is always helpful but it is not as though the two boys are novices, they are seasoned international players and Daniel is going to Euro 2012 [with Denmark]."

On their recent good defensive run Dalglish added: "It is not just about centre-backs and full-backs defending, it is about everyone. As soon as we lose the ball we start defending together and when we have it everyone can go forward if they want.

"Daniel Agger got forward a couple of times on Sunday [in the 2-0 victory away to Aston Villa] and Martin scored a goal. They have been good defensively but they have been good in attack as well."

While Carragher has been frustrated at being relegated to the bench in recent weeks at the other end of the scale Jonjo Shelvey is trying to make the most of his opportunity. Injury to Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva and suspension for Jay Spearing meant he was recalled from a loan spell at Championship side Blackpool earlier this month and he made his first Liverpool League start in Sunday's match at Villa Park.

With Spearing serving the final match of his ban tonight there is every chance the 19-year-old could retain his place at the DW Stadium.

Dalglish is pleased with the progress the teenager is making but also sounded a word of caution.

"He has been fortunate that Lucas is out, Jay got suspended and Steven is injured, but it was even more fortunate for us the level of performance he put in," the Liverpool manager said. "He has a good chance of having a really good career as a professional footballer.

"Part of his progress and development was to look for a club which was suitable for him to go out on loan and play more regularly at a higher level than we could give him here.

"There is no one in the dressing room we would expect to be doing handstands if they are on the bench but it is a fact of life it is going to happen.

"But there has to be some realism involved. He played really well at Aston Villa, but he is only 19 so [let's] just calm down a bit. Let him get on with his career and we will try to develop him the best we can here. We have never been afraid to throw youngsters in and if they are good enough they will be given opportunities."

Dalglish has confirmed his interest in the Cliftonville striker Rory Donnelly, with a number of Premier League club lining up to take a look at the 19-year-old, who has been prolific in front of goal this season.

The Irish club have already accepted a reported £100,000 offer from Swansea for the teenager but Liverpool's interest became known when the Cliftonville chairman, Gerard Lawlor, went public.

"I spoke to the chairman – it was nice of him to tell everyone," Dalglish said. "There is a bit of interest in the boy from a few places so we have registered our interest, but that is as far as it goes at the moment."

News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss