Dalglish pours praise on Spearing

With the Reds captain ruled out for the remainder of the season

after undergoing a groin operation, the 22-year-old academy

graduate has been given a chance in central midfield alongside

Lucas. Spearing probably had the best game of his short first-team

career in the win at Sunderland last month, the first Premier

League match after Gerrard was sidelined. Having not started under

former boss Roy Hodgson, the former FA Youth Cup-winning captain

has played in all three matches since, putting in assured

performances against Manchester City and Arsenal. “Any team in the

world would be a better team with Steven Gerrard playing in

midfield and we’re no different,” said Dalglish. “You feel for

players when they’re injured but when they are injured someone else

steps up to the plate. “It’s to their credit that they’ve all

stepped up to the plate; not just Jay, all of them. “He’s always

been a good passer but maybe now he’s got a bit more confidence and

belief in himself and he’s encouraged more to do it. “The games

he’s had and the performances he’s put in will give him confidence

but he still does that (the snapping around people’s ankles) and we

wouldn’t want to take that away from him. “Jay’s been fantastic in

the games he’s played for us, and that’s a great lift for everyone

at the club – to see someone like that coming through.” Dalglish

has not been afraid to give younger, less experienced players a run

in the team – although some of his selections have been down to

necessity. Spearing is ahead of Christian Poulsen, who has won more

than 80 caps for Denmark, in the midfield pecking order while the

likes of teenage defenders John Flanagan and Jack Robinson have

been pressed into action because of injuries to Glen Johnson,

Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio. “We’ve got a few injuries and it’s

how we react to that that’s most important to us and they’ve done

fantastically well in adversity,” added Dalglish. “Jonjo Shelvey

was doing really well as well until he got injured but now he’s

coming back in; Danny Wilson is the same and Martin Kelly too –

they’ve all been really good for us this year. “But Jay has been

the one who’s done as much as anyone.”