Dalglish: Cole will come good
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insists Joe Cole will be given all the time he needs to rediscover his best form after a disappointing and disjointed start to his Reds career.
The former Chelsea midfielder made his first appearance under Dalglish, and his first in a red shirt since 5 January, as a substitute in last night's goalless UEFA Europa League draw against Sparta Prague. It was only the 29-year-old's 19th game for the club he joined in the summer as a result of suspension and, more lately, hamstring and knee injuries.
The game in the Czech capital was not the easiest for him to make his comeback in but Dalglish said there was plenty of time for the England international to rediscover his best form. "We have got to be patient with Joe. That his first run out since I came here," said Dalglish, who took over from Roy Hodgson on 8 January.
"That is a great start for him, to get himself on the pitch and get an hour won't do him any harm. Joe is a valuable asset for us. Obviously he is not going to pick his form up immediately, if he does it will be a real bonus for us. But we are not going to put him under pressure and expect him to be the Joe Cole who came to Liverpool in the summer.
"We want to give him a bit of time and make sure he gets there. Form is temporary, class is permanent and that is where we stand with Joe. We'll give him a bit of time to get up to speed and then we'll judge him. Joe needs his injury rebuilding so we'll get that right first.
Cole came on for Fabio Aurelio after he injured a groin seven minutes for half-time. Dalglish said the problem was not serious and was hopeful the Brazilian would recover quickly.
The Reds boss was also optimistic he would have both captain Steven Gerrard and defender Daniel Agger back for next week's second leg of their last-32 clash against Sparta. "We'll see when we go back. I don't think he'll (Gerrard) be too long before he's fit and I don't think Daniel Agger will be too much of a problem either," added the 59-year-old.
"We left Martin Kelly and Martin Skrtel out as well because young Martin Kelly has been through an awful lot in the last seven games and has been playing with a few bumps and bruises. This gave him the opportunity to refresh himself, and Martin Skrtel got injured at Chelsea but carried on and we didn't want to take a chance."
The match marked Dalglish's first in Europe as a Liverpool manager, having missed out first time around because of the ban on English clubs after the Heysel disaster. But in truth it was not much of a landmark for the Scot. "It was an honour for me because of the history this club has in Europe," he said.
"But it was a difficult game for us. We would rather have been more offensive but circumstances dictated the way we played with the players we had available. Nil-nil is not the best result we could have got but it is not the worst either."