Kenny won’t rush Reds youngsters

However, the 59-year-old stressed he has complete faith in the

talents of those who are brought in from the academy, highlighted

by his decision to take five with him on the Europa League trip to

face Sparta Prague. All the hype prior to the goalless draw in the

last-32 first-leg tie had surrounded whether 16-year-old prodigy

Raheem Sterling would become the club’s youngest player. Sterling

scored five goals in Monday’s 9-0 FA Youth Cup win over Southend

and was a surprise inclusion in the travelling party, Dalglish

having taken advantage of the half-term break to take the teenager

along for the experience. However, of all the academy prospects on

the trip – Conor Coady, John Flanagan, Jack Robinson, Tom Ince and

Sterling – only Coady, 18 next week, made it on to the substitutes’

bench but never got the chance to come off it. Despite all the

publicity surrounding the involvement of the youngsters, Dalglish

insisted it was not a public relations stunt and the absence of

Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger and Christian Poulsen meant there was

always a chance they might have to be used. And even though they

were not, the Reds boss said they were all the better for the

experience. “The young lads have sent postcards home and everything

– they were looking for a rock shop but couldn’t find one,” joked

Dalglish about their Prague trip. “They weren’t here for a jolly,

they were here because we were short of players. “Conor Coady was

on the bench which meant we needed at least one of them. “He’s a

midfield player and we were short there and he was on the bench

because he has done well for the academy. “They are all deserving

to be here. They are a bit young maybe to be pushed in but then if

they were asked I’m sure they wouldn’t have let us down through

lack of effort. “The most important thing is we have to be

realistic. There was no way we were bringing them over hoping to

get headlines. “We brought them because we needed them and if we

didn’t have to use them that was in their interest as well as ours,

but if we did have to use them we could have.” Dalglish’s European

managerial debut for Liverpool did not go to plan after a dismal

goalless draw against Sparta. He accepts, though, that times have

changed since he conquered the continent as a player, winning the

European Cup three times with Liverpool. “When we were playing, if

you lost over two legs you were out, you never got any second

chances, and that is the stage the competition is at now,” he

added. “Certainly teams are better organised than they were years

ago but I think you can describe us as an organised team as well.

“We’ve another game to come next Thursday so we’ll soon find out

whether we can get through that. “But the onus is on us to be more

creative than we were in Prague. “We will do our best to go as far

as we possibly can in the competition.” The former Scotland

international was able to take some positives from the game, with

the likes of young defender Danny Wilson given a rare 90-minute

outing and Joe Cole making his comeback from a knee injury.

Dalglish was also pleased with full-back Glen Johnson, who was

switched from left-back to his favoured position on the right, with

Martin Kelly being given a well-earned rest. “There is no

difference to Glen, he just plays,” Dalglish said. “Before I came

here people were saying he couldn’t defend but I’ve seen one person

go past him since I was here – and that was me in training! “He has

done fantastically both going forward and defensively.”