Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool boss Dalglish strikes back in Carroll’s defence

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists no-one is in a position to pass judgment on Andy Carroll's lifestyle and feels the striker has become an easy target.

The 22-year-old unwittingly found himself the focus of attention in the warm-up to England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales this week when national team boss Fabio Capello, not for the first time, questioned his fitness and off-field attitude.

Carroll failed to make the bench for the previous match last Friday in Bulgaria and only made a last-minute substitute appearance at Wembley.

He missed England's Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland at the end of last season, and the European Under-21 Championships, due to injury and was pictured partying on holiday in Barbados during the summer.

It prompted Capello to describe the player's lifestyle as “a private problem”, adding “If he wants to be a good player and a good sportsman, he needs to drink less.”

Understandably Dalglish, who spent £35m to sign the Newcastle forward in January, defended the player and reiterated his support.

“For us, as we've said often enough, it falls on deaf ears, Andy wasn't properly fit last year because of a knee injury,” said the Scot.

“We've been very pleased with his level of fitness this year because he's lost that knee injury.

“I think Andy is wiser than a lot of the people who write about him and I don't think his lifestyle is anything like they'd like it to be to get stories.”

The Reds boss was pleased to see all his international players return to the club's Melwood training ground without having sustained significant injuries.

And captain Steven Gerrard, who has not featured at all since a groin operation in March, is edging closer to a long-awaited return.

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