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Carroll's summer still not decided

Andy Carroll

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll's participation in next month's European Championships with England's Under-21s has been thrown into further doubt by manager Kenny Dalglish.

The £35million club-record signing was left behind on Merseyside for Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa because of a niggling knee injury. There had been plenty of conjecture over whether the 22-year-old, already a full international, would be named in Stuart Pearce's squad to go to Denmark anyway.

"Andy's not been able to sustain any reasonable time in training and it would have been irresponsible of us to bring him," said Dalglish. "We played him last week (against Tottenham) but it was unfair on him that we did ask him to play."

He added: "I didn't think we should risk the boy's fitness by bringing him. Although we've not got any games, it's important they're all back fit in July."

And with midfielder Jay Spearing limping off after just 10 minutes with an ankle problem it is possible both players will not be fit for national team duty.

Defeat cost Liverpool a chance of qualifying for Europe, although the previous week's defeat to Tottenham handed the advantage to Spurs who closed out qualification by beating Birmingham - much to the delight of the fans at Villa Park.

Dalglish felt his side fell victim to fatigue in the latter stages of the season but insisted a failure to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1999 was a result of their woeful start to the campaign.

Since Dalglish took over from Roy Hodgson in early January things have turned around but the Scot said they had left themselves too much to do.

"We did not qualify for Europe because we lost this game, it was because we had a bad start to the season," said the Scot, who transformed the team since taking charge. "If you start as badly as that you are lucky to be sixth come the end of it.

"To get so close is a great complement to the players. I'm disappointed we didn't finish on a high as they've (the players) done fantastic to get as far as they have done."

PA