Thursday 23 January 2020

Carragher's influence on defensive duo key -- Dalglish

Carl Markham

Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher may currently be unable to win back his place in the first team, but manager Kenny Dalglish believes the defender's influence is still being felt on the pitch.

The Bootle-born former academy graduate, who turns 34 next month, was injured in the Carling Cup tie at Stoke City in late October and, despite returning to fitness, has had to settle for a place on the bench.

That is a result of the form of centre-backs Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel who, in the seven matches Carragher has missed, have helped keep four clean sheets with the team conceding just three goals.

More of the same will be expected tonight at Wigan as the league's meanest defence comes up against the joint-worst scorers in the top flight.

Agger and Skrtel have clicked as a pairing and, although Dalglish believes the team are working harder defensively, he thinks his current first-choice centre-backs have both benefited from playing alongside Carragher.

"I don't think they have ever looked a bad pair but the both of them are playing very well," said the Scot. "They know how to play. Jamie being beside them when they came in at first has been a fantastic help to them. You can't underplay what Jamie has done for the two of them but they are more than capable of standing on their own two feet.

"Competition is always helpful, but it is not as though the two boys are novices, they are seasoned international players and Daniel is going to Euro 2012 (with Denmark).

"It is not just about centre-backs and full-backs defending, it is about everyone. As soon as we lose the ball we start defending together and when we have it everyone can go forward if they want.

"Daniel Agger got forward a couple of times on Sunday (in the 2-0 victory away to Aston Villa) and Martin scored a goal. They have been good defensively but they have been good in attack as well."

Wigan v Liverpool, Live, Sky Sports 1, 8.0

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