KENNY DALGLISH has hailed the contribution of his young guns for ensuring Liverpool will go into Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Everton at Wembley on a high.
The Reds had no fewer than six outfield players aged 23 or under involved in Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory at Blackburn.
Dalglish put his faith in Andy Carroll (left), Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing, Jonjo Shelvey, Sebastian Coates and Jon Flanagan as his 10 men worked hard to secure a morale- boosting three points.
“I think sometimes people forget how young some of the lads are,” Dalglish said.
“Look at Wednesday, we had big Andy, Jordan, Jay, Jonjo, Seb and Flanno out there.
“Jay is the oldest of that bunch and he’s only 23.
“We have been delighted with the contribution of the young players. We've got a good crop of young players here. Age isn't a factor, it's ability.
“Sometimes you have to put youngsters in due to the situation you find yourselves in. And the response we've had has been magnificent.
“We're really looking forward to them progressing further and I'm sure they will.”
Dalglish paid tribute to Flanagan who endured a tough night at Ewood Park.
It was his backpass which led to the sending off of keeper Alexander Doni and he was substituted to make way for Brad Jones to come on.
But the 19-year-old defender had been outstanding in the Reds' three previous games. The manager is confident Flanagan and fellow young full-back Jack Robinson, who has been hampered by injuries this season, have big futures at Anfield.
“It's great for us to have local boys like Flanno and Robbo coming through the Academy,” Dalglish said.
“We've also had Jay and Kells (Martin Kelly) come through which has been really pleasing.
“Flanno has been fantastic for us. Since he came into make his debut in a big game against Man City last season nothing has fazed him.
“It was the same with Robbo who came on at Arsenal last season, found himself up against Theo Walcott and handled it fantastically well.
“Obviously we had to take Flanno off at Blackburn in order to put a goalkeeper on. He's fine, he knows what football is all about. He understood he couldn't play in goal!
“When a youngster does something brilliant no-one waxes lyrical in case he gets carried away so there's no need to highlight anything else.
“It's all part of his education. There isn't anyone who has ever played football who has never made a mistake.
“Both Flanno and Robbo have been brilliant for us. It's been essential for us that they have been here for us to fall back on. They will be here for a long, long time.
“The contribution they've made has been pleasing for them but more importantly it's been really pleasing for us.”