Dalglish focused despite off-field issues


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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists his side will not be distracted by off-field issues this week.

And he is certain they will need no extra motivation as they look to bounce back from their first defeat since mid-September at home to QPR tomorrow.

The Reds' 11-match unbeaten run was ended in controversial circumstances at Fulham on Monday as Jay Spearing was sent off and then, after the match, Luis Suarez was pictured allegedly making an offensive gesture to the crowd.

Those incidents resulted in two Football Association charges arriving at the Melwood training ground a couple of days later, one for the club for failing to control their players in the wake of the red card and the other for Suarez for his apparent misconduct.

All in all it has not been a good week for Liverpool but Dalglish said it was business as usual for him and the players in terms of the approaching game.

"It (the furore at Craven Cottage) has only distracted me because I've got to answer questions about it," said the Scot.

"It is a distraction which has to be covered but it should never take precedence over what we are trying to do on the pitch and the training ground.

"We will do what we always do and that is our best as well as we can and see if we can get a bit of luck going our way."

And despite suffering a third Barclays Premier League loss - all of which have come away from home - Dalglish does not believe it will have a detrimental effect on morale.

"I think it is worse to pick them up when they are rubbish and you can never accuse them of that," added the Scot.

"Defeat is never pleasant but we set our standards higher than that so it won't be difficult to pick them up.

"The only reason you wouldn't back your players was if they were continually producing performances like the one at Tottenham (a 4-0 defeat, which was the last time they were beaten prior to Monday).

"They haven't done that. This season they could have won every game they played in apart from Tottenham so I don't see why we have to be disappointed.

"We are only disappointed for the players that they haven't got what they deserved in terms of points and goals.

"The performance against Fulham was good enough to have won the game.

"We were on a great run. We didn't over-react when we were on a good run so we're not going to over-react when we lose a game."

Dalglish will hope when the Reds return to Anfield tomorrow that normal service is not resumed.

Their last four outings at home have all ended in draws and although they have not been beaten at Anfield this season, two wins and five draws with nine goals scored does not make for happy reading.

In that run of draws, two have been against Manchester City and Manchester United but two more came against newcomers Norwich and Swansea.

With a third promoted side in QPR arriving the Liverpool manager will be targeting a return to winning ways.

Dalglish, however, does not believe some of his players, a number of whom arrived in the summer, find the expectation of playing at home a burden.

"We think playing at Anfield is a fantastic place, though some people (opponents) might come and find it intimidating," he added.

"The thing everyone has to remember is when we play at Anfield they (the fans) are on our side.

"It's up to us to put the chances (we create) away.

"I think the three (promoted) sides have done very well.

"QPR played well against Man City at Loftus Road and were unlucky not to win so if they can do well against the team at the top of the league I'm sure they will be looking to do well when they come here.

"All we can do is compete against them as best as we possibly can."

Liverpool have confirmed midfielder Lucas Leiva has successfully undergone surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee which he injured last week at Chelsea.

The operation took place in Sao Paulo and the Brazil midfielder, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season, hopes to leave hospital later today.

"LFC medical staff were present during the procedure," said a club statement.

"Lucas will now begin an agreed rehabilitation programme which will be overseen by the club's medical team."

Late last night the 24-year-old wrote on Twitter: "Busy day doing treatment, hopefully tomorrow I leave the hospital."