Jamie Carragher is invaluable to Liverpool says Kenny Dalglish

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes veteran defender Jamie Carragher still has plenty to offer the club.

The Reds vice-captain, who signed a new two-year contract in October, turned 33 last month but his performance in last weekend's victory over Chelsea highlighted his value.

In his first match in over two months after recovering from shoulder surgery, he seamlessly slipped back into a new three-man defence and helped snuff out the threat of £50million former team-mate Fernando Torres on his debut.

Dalglish believes that shows the Bootle-born defender can still contribute significantly to helping bring success back to the club.

"He's a fantastic influence in and around the place but if he's on the pitch he can be a far greater influence," said the Scot.

"He was fantastic last Sunday. It's a great credit to him that he got through the game. It's a great credit to his professionalism and the respect he has for his body because it had been a while since he last played.

"He's probably been the club's best defender for many years. I don't think there's anything original you can say about a guy who is 33 years of age.

"He is everything that everybody knows he is. He is a great credit and asset to this football club, and he'll be invaluable to us going forward."

Dalglish said it was difficult to compare Carragher to Liverpool's defensive greats of the past.

"For me, Carra is better than Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson because he's playing now - they cannot play now because they're 50-odd years of age," he joked.

"I think everybody knows the respect and appreciation I have for Jamie Carragher, and it's the same as every other Liverpool fan.

"Carra has been as good a defender as we've had for many, many years.

"We're fortunate that he's here and we're fortunate that he's so committed to the club."

Following his international retirement - for the second time - after last summer's World Cup, Carragher was one of the few first-team players to be at the club's Melwood training ground all week.

Dalglish admits such weeks make it difficult to prepare properly for weekend games but accepts it is something all Barclays Premier League managers have to take in their stride.

"It is a difficult situation because you can understand the wishes of the international managers but I suppose they are our players so that has to be taken into consideration as well," said the 59-year-old, whose captain Steven Gerrard was excused an England call-up this week because of a groin problem.

"I think most of the lads that have come back are okay. England showed a lot of common sense with Steven, letting him come back. So as long as common sense prevails, then I'm sure we can all get on with our life and do our respective jobs.

"It might be an idea to let the clubs play on a Sunday after the internationals and then people can have a reasonable break."

Dalglish will make a late assessment on Gerrard's fitness for tomorrow's home match against Wigan.

There was bad news yesterday regarding Jonjo Shelvey, though, with the 18-year-old midfielder ruled out for the next three months with a knee tendon injury.

Shelvey withdrew from England Under-19s' friendly against Germany on Tuesday and further assessment at the club's Melwood training ground revealed a significant problem.