KENNY DALGLISH has paid tribute to Jamie Carragher as the defender prepares to reach yet another Liverpool milestone.
Carragher is due to make his 665th appearance for the Reds in tomorrow’s lunchtime clash with Newcastle United at Anfield and will move joint second with Ray Clemence and Emlyn Hughes in the list of Anfield appearance-makers. Only Ian Callaghan, on 857, will be ahead of the 33-year-old.
And Dalglish believes the Bootle-born defender, below, who made his Liverpool debut in 1997, is a credit to the club.
“Carra has been a fantastic servant to this football club,” said Dalglish.
“He’s filled in loyally and comfortably in many positions and he’s someone who has been very pleased to be associated with Liverpool - and we’re pleased to be associated with him.”
Carragher has already moved past Ian Rush, Phil Neal, Tommy Smith and Bruce Grobbelaar after making 34 appearances during this campaign, and Dalglish believes he deserves to be mentioned among such legendary Anfield names.
“Talent is a good starting point,” said Dalglish, “Starting in the first team at 18 is another good starting point and not picking up too many injuries helps, but the most important thing is his ability and his desire and commitment to this football club.”
Carragher has been captaining the side with Steven Gerrard absent through injury of late, and his form has been instrumental in the Reds’ upturn in form, which has seen them take 27 points from their last 14 games.
And with the likes of John Flanagan and Jack Robinson having made the step up into the first team in recent weeks, Dalglish believes his youngsters have an ideal role model.
“It wouldn’t be bad for the young lads to model themselves on Jamie or Steven,” said Dalglish.
“There are a lot of things a local lad trying to come through has to endure and the ones who might experience that in the future could do a lot worse than having a word with either of them.”
Dalglish has also expressed his enthusiasm for a new era at Anfield, following the appointments of Ian Ayre as managing director and Damien Comolli as director of football back in March and the big-money arrivals of Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in January.
“We need to wait a few years before we judge it,” he said. “But certainly Ian and Damien are two positive appointments.”
Carroll is struggling with a knee problem ahead of the visit of his former club.
Dalglish believes the £35m signing will benefit from a full pre-season with his new club this summer, but could be forced to make do without Suarez for part of that, with the Uruguayan due to head off to the Copa America in Argentina in July.
Brazilian Lucas Leiva and Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez are also likely to be involved in the three-week tournament, at the same time as the Reds’ tour of the Far East.
“It’s not helpful but there is nothing we can do about it and we just have to get on with it,” Dalglish said. “The competition is a huge event for the South Americans and we’ve got to respect that.”