independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Laudrup hails Shelvey's character

Michael Laudrup was pleased with the character shown by Jonjo Shelvey, right

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup felt the need to deliver a half-time pep talk to Jonjo Shelvey as the midfielder went from hero to villain and back again in a thrilling 2-2 draw with his former club Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium.

Much of the pre-match build-up had centred on Shelvey's first appearance against the Reds since his summer move to south Wales, and he made a dream start as he fired the home side ahead after 87 seconds.

But just 99 seconds later his woeful backpass allowed Daniel Sturridge to equalise, and another misplaced pass saw Victor Moses put the Reds ahead on his debut.

Shelvey was left with his head in his hands and the visitors led 2-1 at the break, but he responded by teeing up Michu for an equaliser with a surging run and astute cushioned header.

Laudrup praised the 21-year-old's character, but admitted he had a word with the ex-Charlton man at the interval.

"It was a difficult half for him," he said.

"But I said 'there is no problem, go out there, you still have 45 minutes to turn it around'.

"He knew only he could bring himself back into the game and it was a fantastic reaction to pull himself together.

"It says a lot about him, he is still very young and he will be stronger for this game."

Shelvey apologised to the Swansea fans after the game, telling Sky Sports 1: "I just want to say sorry to the Swansea fans for two bad mistakes.

"We started tremendous, getting the goal, but then I've made two mistakes.

"Then I showed a bit of character, getting on the ball and setting the goal up. It's a bit of a relief but feel I've given Liverpool a draw really."

But Laudrup felt he had nothing to reproach himself for.

"He had no need to do that," said the Dane.

"Nobody makes mistakes on purpose but it shows how he is.

"The most important thing was his reaction. It's difficult after a first half like that. You feel you could have done better but I said there were 45 more minutes and we dominated the last 25 minutes of the game."

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers added: "He kept going, bless him. He is a terrific boy who made a brave decision to leave a club like Liverpool and nights like this are why he left, to learn.

"He took his goal well but when you play against good players they can punish you and Sturridge is lethal and will be one of the top strikers in Europe over the next few years.

"But Jonjo will prove to be a very good player."

Rodgers was also pleased with the character his side showed during the final quarter, as they came under severe pressure from their hosts, and went back to the top of the Premier League table.

"I thought for the first 65 minutes we were very good," said the former Swansea manager.

"We showed incredible character to get back level so soon after they scored, and until 65 minutes we took control.

"I was disappointed with their second goal and then the momentum changed for the last 25 minutes and we had to show character and resilience.

"But we showed tonight our game is getting better and we have the character to get a lot of results."

Rodgers also confirmed Philippe Coutinho had been forced off by a shoulder injury, with the club waiting for a scan to determine the extent of the problem, and that Daniel Agger's absence was down to a side strain the defender picked up while trying to avoid a dumbbell falling on his foot in the gym.

Laudrup, meanwhile, is likely to be without Pablo Hernandez for this week's meetings with Valencia and Crystal Palace due to a hamstring injury, while Wilfried Bony is nursing a rib problem.

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