Sunday 19 November 2017

Emotional return for Bellamy after death of Speed

Chris Bascombe

Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy will make an emotional return to football tonight following the death of his close friend Gary Speed.

Bellamy was withdrawn from Sunday's Premier League game with Manchester City on compassionate grounds, but will play against Chelsea in the Carling Cup.

Speed was a mentor for the Welsh centre-forward, credited with talking Bellamy into remaining part of the international set-up.

Bellamy was part of the travelling party heading to London last night and is expected to start the quarter-final at Stamford Bridge. Kenny Dalglish is respectful of his striker's wishes, but it is felt he is in the right frame of mind to play.

Dalglish has taken a strong squad to London while he'd earlier threatened to lead a youth team into the game in protest against its controversial scheduling.

Liverpool are unhappy to be playing such an important game in their season -- the Carling Cup represents an ideal opportunity to end their six-year barren spell in terms of trophies won -- just 48 hours after their Premier League game with Manchester City.

"It is a bit irresponsible for the people who've organised the dates of the matches," Dalglish said. "To ask any team or any players to play two games of high intensity in 48 hours is a bit of a joke.

"I don't know why the PFA don't come in and say something about it -- it's their players. For me it's difficult to understand why they don't come out and say something. Or do they agree with it?

"We know we've got to accept it although we don't agree with it, and it won't affect the application or give us an excuse.

"We've sold out our tickets for the match, we know what's expected, the players know what's expected of them, so all we can do is try our best and see what happens."

Dalglish will recall vice-captain Jamie Carragher to centre-half and Andy Carroll is expected to return to the starting line-up.

The increased strength in depth of the Anfield squad should mean Liverpool are not unduly weakened by a series of changes.

Uruguayan defender Sebastian Coates, England U-21 international Martin Kelly and Argentinian midfielder Maxi Rodriguez are all likely to start for Dalglish. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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