Dalglish hails Carragher landmark
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes Jamie Carragher still has plenty to offer the club as the veteran defender prepares to pass another landmark in his career. The centre-back, captaining the side in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard, is set to play his 666th match for the club against Fulham tomorrow.
It will put the 33-year-old second in the all-time list in terms of appearances at Anfield, although it is inconceivable he will eventually get past Ian Callaghan's phenomenal 857. Carragher, who has a year left on his contract, has been a linked with a move into the club's backroom staff when he finally finishes playing and it has even been suggested he could one day become manager.
The former England international is, however, concentrating on his playing career at the moment - for which Dalglish is grateful as the Bootle-born defender is the major influence at the back. "It is a great accolade for him to be the second in the table for most appearances as a Liverpool player," said the Scot.
"He has been here a while and hopefully he will be here for a lot longer. Cally (Callaghan) is iconic here not just because of the number of games he played but for the service he gave to the club and the success he brought with him.
"He was there at the start of the foundations for the club, he was in there with Shanks (former manager Bill Shankly). Carra might have just missed out on that but he has been a part of an awful lot of people's reign at the club and has served every single one of them superbly well. I am sure he has one or two miles left in him yet."
Carragher has been a crucial steadying influence in defence in recent weeks with teenagers John Flanagan and Jack Robinson having been drafted in from the reserves because of injuries.
But Dalglish believes he has played a key role in the form of Martin Skrtel, who had a shaky spell in December and January but has recovered to maintain his record of starting every Premier League match this season.
"He is fantastically helpful to everyone, not just Flanno (Flanagan) but Martin Skrtel, who has been fantastic since we (Dalglish and coach Steve Clarke who arrived in January after the departure of Roy Hodgson) came in and he has grown in stature.
"I am sure playing beside Carra helps him. Carra will educate and help him and I am sure he appreciates that and it helps him go forward. He does a bit of everything for us and makes a huge contribution."
Liverpool head to Craven Cottage looking to regain fifth place from Tottenham and take back the initiative in the race for Europa League qualification.
Having scraped past Fulham at Anfield in January thanks to a John Pantsil own goal Dalglish is well aware it will not be an easy task tomorrow, with memories of their 3-1 defeat there last season typical of the problems they endured last campaign.
"Fulham played very well here, we beat them 1-0 and were quite fortunate," said the Reds boss. "They are on a good run so they have had an excellent season and it is going to be difficult for us, as every game is.
"If they hadn't had as many draws at the beginning of the season they would be a lot higher up the league."
Dalglish will make a late check on defender Fabio Aurelio (hamstring) and forward Milan Jovanovic (knee) before the trip south but otherwise he is likely to stick with the players who beat Newcastle last weekend.
The likes of Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen and David Ngog were given a run-out with the reserves on Thursday but all will start on the bench again tomorrow.