Dalglish vows to protect Liverpool kids

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has promised not to destroy the young stars who have impressed in his club's recent resurgence.

Updated: April 22, 2011 10:33 IST
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Liverpool: Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has promised not to destroy the young stars who have impressed in his club's recent resurgence.

Dalglish is delighted with how teenagers John Flanagan and Jack Robinson have adapted after being thrown in at the deep end following injuries to key players.

The inexperienced full-backs helped Liverpool earn a 1-1 draw at Arsenal last Sunday, while 18-year-old Flanagan also caught the eye in the 3-0 victory over Manchester City in the previous game.

Both could again feature when League Cup winners Birmingham visit Anfield on Saturday, but Dalglish is wary of over-using the fledglings after their rapid emergence from the club's youth academy.

"We're delighted with what they've done and the fact it's been against Man City and Arsenal speaks volumes for them and the way they've been brought up," Dalglish said.

"We just hope it continues, but at the same time we're not going to get carried away and we're not going to destroy the boys.

"We've got to be conscious of the fact they are only kids and we've got to look for any wee signs maybe it's a proper time to give them a rest if they need it.

"We've got to look after them and be consistent. We've got to keep our feet on the ground."

England striker Andy Carroll and veteran defender Jamie Carragher are both doubtful as Liverpool look to make it eight wins in 12 games on Saturday.

Club record £35 million signing Carroll jarred his knee against Arsenal, while Carragher was knocked out after a clash of heads inthe same game.

"We'll have to wait and see on Carra and Andy before the weekend," added Dalglish, whose side start the weekend five points behind fifth-placed Tottenham.

Liverpool are definitely without captain Steven Gerrard and defender Daniel Agger because of groin and knee injuries respectively.

Meanwhile, Birmingham manager Alex McLeish is adamant his team will not be derailed by their defeat at Chelsea.

The Blues picked up seven points from a possible nine heading into the clash but fell to a 3-1 defeat to Carlo Ancelotti's side which has left them still in a battle to avoid relegation.

But McLeish is confident his players will bounce back and secure a third straight season in the Premier League.

"I don't see any reason why the confidence should diminish," McLeish said.

"We had some good moments and I was pleased with the players never say die attitude. They never gave in."

The Scot plans to freshen up his team against Liverpool after resting veterans like Lee Bowyer and Kevin Phillips for the Chelsea clash.

"I need to preserve some people at this stage of the season," he added. "Three games in a week, for guys who are 33, 34-years-of-age and older, it's difficult to maintain a sharpness."

Birmingham's penalty-taking duties will lie with Craig Gardner after he and team mate Seb Larsson were involved in an exchange over who should take their spot-kick in Wednesday's defeat.

Sweden international Larsson eventually prevailed and confidently fired in from 12 yards, yet he will hand the ball over when Birmingham next get a spot-kick.

"We always joke about it in training, that we're both the penalty takers, and I don't think any of us have missed this season," Larsson said.

"Obviously both of us wanted to take it, I took this one and said 'Gards, you will have the next one', so next time I will step away."

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