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Kenny clears the Red mist

KENNY Dalglish issued a staunch defence of Andy Carroll and Pepe Reina after both Liverpool players ended yesterday's 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United in disgrace.

Carroll reacted to his second-half substitution by swearing several times in the direction of Dalglish. The England striker claimed the decision to take him off was a "f****** joke" before storming straight down the tunnel when he was replaced by Dirk Kuyt 11 minutes from the end.

Reina, meanwhile, will miss the FA Cup semi-final against Everton at Wembley through suspension after being sent off for headbutting Newcastle defender James Perch.

Dalglish, however, refused to publicly condemn his players, claiming they had acted out of frustration. "The frustration and disappointment resulted in the actions Pepe took when he got a deserved red card," he said. "Andy came off and went up the tunnel. He was frustrated with the way the game had gone. Not just for himself, but for the team.

"We have not got a problem with people showing desperation or disappointment or frustration, but we need to channel it better.

"If we don't stick together and have trust in each other it is going to be a lot more difficult."

Carroll had been desperate to catch the eye before the game and he did, but for all the wrong reasons. He was booked for diving after he tripped over his own feet while trying to go round goalkeeper Tim Krul early in the game and and headed a decent chance over in the first half.

Newcastle's supporters were initially intent on booing their former No9, but they were even happier to mock him as their side moved into a two-goal lead, thanks to a brace from the man who replaced him, Papiss Demba Cisse.

"I think he did all right," added Dalglish, "but we have no qualms either about when he went down with the goalkeeper. I thought it wasn't a penalty kick. I also thought Andy was losing his balance anyway.

"Even if he had got past the goalie, I think he would still have fallen over. We don't have a problem with that. We might have a problem with the yellow card because I don't think it was intentional."

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew also exchanged words with his former striker after the penalty incident, although he tried to offer him support after the final whistle.

Liverpool have consistently denied they are looking to sell Carroll, but Newcastle would be interested in re-signing him should he become available, albeit at a vastly reduced price to the £35million they sold him for in January 2011.

"Andy Carroll is a player that needs to have a game plan that's going to work for him," said Pardew. "Liverpool struggle to find that with the players they have.

"I felt for Andy. He's a terrific lad having a tough year, but he'll come back. When we had him here we were probably a little bit more direct than we are now. He was magnificent for us and he will be again."

Pardew once again urged France boss Laurent Blanc to take a look at Hatem Ben Arfa as he prepares to pick his Euro 2012 squad. The winger turned in another fleet-footed display to help the Magpies to their Premier League victory over Liverpool and leave his manager purring.

Pardew, who nursed the Frenchman back from an horrendous double leg fracture, said: "When you have a player who has a special talent, sometimes they look at you as a manager and they want to play.

"He wasn't fit. He had worked really, really hard, but he wasn't actually match-fit.

"He was fit, but not match-fit, not really sure of how we played and in the Premier League, the transition of play, where he should be and where he shouldn't be.

"He has taken on board and he has listened to me and he has listened to my staff and he has been very, very diligent.

"That's why nothing would give me more pleasure than for him to make the French squad, and I think he can. He has got some individual ability that I would be very surprised if France has that in the squad in terms of what he can do to a team.

"Even if he was to be taken as an impact player, he's got a great opportunity and he is in great shape."

It was Ben Arfa who helped to set the ball rolling for Newcastle when he produced a superb run before delivering the perfect cross to the far post for Cisse to head them in front with his sixth goal in seven games.

The Senegal international made it seven 14 minutes after the break when he calmly stepped inside Reina to slot home for close range.

Reina pressed the self-destruct button with nine minutes remaining when he was sent off for head-butting defender James Perch, in the process ruling himself out of the FA Cup semi-final clash with Everton later this month.