Kenny Dalglish has called on referees to be fair to Craig Bellamy ahead of today's visit to Anfield by Blackburn Rovers, another of his former clubs.
Dalglish suggested that officials have treated Bellamy – who has been booked in each of his last four appearances for Liverpool – unfairly due to his fiery reputation. The latest came when referee Michael Oliver brandished a yellow card at Bellamy for a challenge on midfielder Mohamed Diame during last Wednesday night's goalless draw at Wigan. But Dalgish insisted that the Welshman, 32, was mature enough to keep himself under control.
The Liverpool manager said: "It's all well and good having rules, but rules should be the same for everyone, not split up for different people.
"Would you ever ask Bellamy to tone down his feistiness? No. He is experienced enough. But he has been booked four times [in his last four games] and hasn't deserved any of them. Does that force you to alter how you might select him in the future? You would hate to believe there is an agenda against him. If Craig needs to play, he will play. We have just got to take that chance.
"[Wigan defender] Antolin Alcaraz gave five free-kicks away last Wednesday and there was no yellow card. If [Alcaraz] is going to get five chances, does that mean everyone else is? We just need a wee bit of clarity."
Dalglish also brought up Liverpool's 1-0 defeat at Fulham earlier this month, when Bellamy was also booked.
"Clint Dempsey put his head in Craig's face. When we asked the referee why the wee man was booked he said 'Craig knows' – but he didn't know.
"There was another against Queen's Park Rangers when Joey Barton approached him. I don't know why he has been booked but I haven't seen anything in any of them."
Bellamy scored 17 goals in 27 games during his one season at Rovers, from 2005 to 2006. He has scored four goals for Liverpool this season but another booking today would mean that he is suspended for the match against Newcastle, another of his former clubs, on Friday night.
Dalglish admitted he was concerned about the goal threat posed by the Blackburn striker Yakubu, who has scored 11 goals this season.
"His goal tally is impressive in a team who are bottom of the table," added Dalglish. "[He] is a clinical finisher – a threat. It will be a good competition between Yakubu and ourselves but if we take our eyes off everything else and watch [him] it will be trouble."
A victory at Anfield would help Liverpool keep the pressure on Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, while Blackburn will remain in the relegation zone even with an unlikely victory.Reuse content