Dalglish staying thoughtful in fixture pile-up
A packed festive programme holds no worries for Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish as he seeks to balance Premier League and cup commitments. The traditional run of fixtures in quick succession around the turn of the year means the Reds face eight matches in 28 days.
That tally includes four in 11 days in early January because of cup games. But while an FA Cup third-round tie and, more significantly, a two-legged League Cup semi-final against Manchester City lie in wait in a few weeks' time, Dalglish is concentrating on building upon last weekend's win at home to QPR after their 11-match unbeaten stretch ended a few days before at Fulham.
"Obviously you take into account the fixtures you've got coming up and how many days you've got in between," said the Scot, whose side travel to Aston Villa on Sunday before going to Wigan the following Wednesday. "There is a great deal of thought that goes into the process.
"After the first game you take into account how your players are before you move into the second game - but you do that before every match. The games do come thick and fast now and we've just got to deal with it but you do take into consideration is the workload. Everything is monitored any way so you've got a good idea of how the players are.
"We'll get the first game done and then we'll worry about the one after it. We know what fixtures we've got coming up but there is not a great of thought that goes into the one beyond the Aston Villa game. We know the fixture list. I think the greatest influence on the team against Aston Villa will be who we're playing against - not the game that's coming after that at Wigan. First thing's first."
Managing the squad, certainly in central midfield, has become less of an option in recent weeks as a season-ending injury to Lucas Leiva, ongoing fitness problems with captain Steven Gerrard and suspension to Jay Spearing have left Liverpool light in that area. Dalglish recalled Jonjo Shelvey from his loan spell at Championship side Blackpool in order to provide cover but speculation has already begun about potential transfer targets for next month.
The Reds boss has spent heavily in the last two windows since taking over for a second spell at Anfield in early January. Dalglish confirmed last month he did not doubt owners Fenway Sports Group would provide more funds if required but he was vague about whether he would look to strengthen again.
Anfield has, somewhat fancifully, been suggested as a possible destination for former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, enduring a difficult period at Chelsea following his move 11 months ago, but Dalglish refused to even talk about transfers. "We don't speculate on anybody - either our own players or somebody else's players," he added.
"It doesn't matter what we say, there is going to be speculation in the newspapers - but we won't be here to answer every question that's in newspapers. We'll do our business the way we've been brought up to do our business and that's privately behind closed doors. We have the option to add if we want to, but we also have another option that we don't have to."