Andy Carroll backed by Kenny Dalglish after criticism

Critics need to lay off Carroll, insists Dalglish (well, he”s only hit five goals since record 35m move a year ago…)

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish launched a staunch defence of Andy Carroll, insisting the goal shy club record signing is not struggling for confidence.

The 35million forward has failed to find his best form since his arrival from Newcastle last January.

Carroll has scored three goals in 19 appearances this season and just five in 28 in a Reds shirt.

Support: Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has defended under-fire 35million striker Andy Carroll

Support: Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish has defended under-fire 35million striker Andy Carroll

He made his first start in four matches in Boxing Day”s 1-1 draw with Blackburn during which he would have scored had it not been for two good saves by Mark Bunn.

Dalglish has always backed the striker, who could face his former club on Friday, and continues to do so.

“I don”t think self-belief is a problem for Andy Carroll, I don”t see why it should be,” said the Scot.

“There”s nothing to say he”s short of belief and there is no evidence he should be.

Lift off: Carroll was handed a rare start against Blackburn but failed to score

Lift off: Carroll was handed a rare start against Blackburn but failed to score

“One game he played (started) in we went down to nine men (the defeat at Tottenham) and another (the loss atFulham) we had another sent off.

“I think yourselves (the media) have a bigger problem with Andy than anyone else.

“This week is understandable because it is against Newcastle but I don”t understand the rest of the stuff.”

Training day: Liverpool are hoping Carroll will soon produce the goods to justify his expensive price tag

Training day: Liverpool are hoping Carroll will soon produce the goods to justify his expensive price tag

Dalglish also said the club were still awaiting the arrival of the written verdict from Luis Suarez”s disciplinary commission which banned the striker for eight-matches for using offensive words, including a reference to skin colour, towards Manchester United”s Patrice Evra.

“We”ll tell you when they arrive – I think they”ll come on the (FA) website first,” said the Reds boss, who added they had not received any news on a date for Suarez”s misconduct hearing for allegedly making an offensive gesture to Fulham fans earlierthis month.

Looking on: Carroll has spent large spells on the bench for Dalglish

Looking on: Carroll has spent large spells on the bench for Dalglish”s Liverpool this season

Dalglish, meanwhile, revealed his delight that fit-again captain Steven Gerrard is “looking superb”.

The England midfielder returned to duty as a substitute during the Boxing Day draw against Blackburn after two months out.

Dalglish, however, is refusing to rush him straight back into action and wants to gradually rebuild his match fitness.

Fit again: Dalglish says Steven Gerrard is looking superb after returning to action on Boxing Day

Fit again: Dalglish says Steven Gerrard is looking superb after returning to action on Boxing Day

He said: “Steven was back to full fitness before he got a freak injury and that”s why he had to recover again, but the two of them weren”t related and he is back and looks even better than he did the last time he came back.

“But we are not going to be irresponsible and throw him in and take a chance.

“We know he”s fit and we know he just needs game time in the same way as we monitored him through last time and we”ll do the same this time.

“He looks superb at the moment.”