Carroll can cope at Anfield, says Dalglish


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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists record signing Andy Carroll is not struggling to deal with the pressure of being at a big club.

The Scot believes claims that the striker's lifestyle is incompatible with a top-flight career are based on nothing more than the "furtive imagination" of the media.

The 22-year-old is a month away from marking his first anniversary at Anfield having moved at the end of the January transfer window for £35million.

Those intervening months have not been kind to the England international as he struggled to attain full fitness after a thigh injury sustained prior to his move from Newcastle and then had questions raised about his off-field habits by national team boss Fabio Capello.

This season he has made 19 appearances, seven of which have been as substitute, and scored three goals to take his overall Liverpool record to five goals in 28 games.

However, with Luis Suarez banned for Friday's visit of the Magpies after accepting an improper conduct charge for his offensive gesture towards Fulham fans - and with the shadow of a further eight-match suspension hanging over the Uruguay international on other matters - it seems the time has arrived for Carroll to step up.

"He is adapting well to the change and we will keep working with him and, fortunately for Andy, we have much greater belief in him than a lot of people have who write about him," said Dalglish, speaking before Suarez was hit by the one-match ban over the Fulham incident.

"He is not struggling to deal with anything - the perception has not come from anywhere else other than someone's imagination.

"I don't think self-belief is a problem for Andy Carroll, I don't see why it should be.

"There's nothing to say he's short of belief and there is no evidence he should be.

"He is unfortunate in that he attracts a bit of attention to himself from yourselves (the media).

"I think someone has a furtive imagination about the lifestyle he leads compared to the one we know he leads - like everyone else he deserves a bit of time off.

"I think yourselves have a bigger problem with Andy than anyone else.

"But for us he has come here and gone about his work very well and has adjusted to life at a new club with new philosophies and a new way of playing.

"There is no one at the club who couldn't be doing better and Andy is no different to anyone else in that respect."

Dalglish believes people make judgements on Carroll based on his previous history and not what he sees the player do day-to-day at the club's Melwood training ground.

And while he accepts the player may be unhappy to not be starting every week the Reds boss said that was not a situation exclusive to him.

Carroll started for the first time in four matches in the disappointing Boxing Day draw at home to Blackburn, where had it not been for two good saves by Mark Bunn he would have scored.

He has not started back-to-back league matches since November 5 but Dalglish said no one, irrespective of who the opposition was, was guaranteed that.

"Anyone who started against Blackburn has a chance of starting back-to-back games, not just Andy," he added.

"Whether it is his former club or not it makes no difference to me in terms of what the team will be.

"The most important thing is for him to be playing for us. That is what he is concentrating on."

Dalglish was asked what Carroll had to do to improve.

"First he has got to get picked; the best way to do that is performances on and off the pitch - for everyone not just Andy Carroll," he said.

"I never knew him before (he moved to Liverpool) so I don't know what he was like but the football is the most important thing to him and that he is playing.

"That is what he enjoys most. He has a happy home life and if the football is going well then the home life will be happier.

"He loves playing football, loves scoring goals and loves being part and parcel of the team.

"He wants to play as many games as he can and if he is not playing many games then I'm sure that wouldn't be a great point in his Liverpool life."