He has it all: Rodgers backs veteran Carragher to soldier on at Liverpool
21:47 GMT, 19 September 2012
Brendan Rodgers has backed Jamie Carragher to prolong his playing career beyond this season as he insisted Liverpool’s future must contain a role for the club legend.
Carragher, 34, will make his 705th appearance for Liverpool when he captains an inexperienced side against Young Boys Berne in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Starts, however, have been hard to come by for Carragher since Rodgers became manager and the defender, who is in the last year of his contract, raised the prospect in an interview last weekend of retiring next summer.
Future: Brendan Rodgers (left) believes Jamie Carragher has a key role to play at Liverpool
Young Boys: (4-1-4-1): Wolfli: Sutter, Ojala, Veskovac,Raimondi: Spycher: Farnerud, Zarate, Schneuwly, Nuzzolo: Bobadilla.
Liverpool: (4-3-3): Jones: Wisdom, Carragher, Coates, Enrique: Henderson, Sahin, Suso: Assaidi, Pacheco, Downing.
Referee: Michael Koukoulakis (Greece)
Rodgers, though, is adamant that advancing years will not stop Carragher making a contribution going forward and believes it is vital he remains at Anfield, whether it is as a player or a coach.
‘I had a conversation with Jamie when I first came in,’ said Rodgers.
‘He wasn’t sure about where he was at in his career. He has been a stalwart at this club and was a regular until last season.
‘But I’ve been so impressed by him on and off the pitch. I think he can play on. He is one of the guys who is the soul of this club and there has to be a place for someone like him. Whether he wants to play on is up to him.
‘I arrived here and heard these stories about him kicking the ball long up the pitch, but this is one of the best technical players we have – left foot, right foot; his touch on the ball, his reading of the game and his tactical intelligence. He has it all.
‘No doubt there is a role for him later on but there is no reason why he cannot play on from what I’ve seen over the last few months. He is a great guy and he wants what is best for the football club.’
Stalwart: Carragher has had a glittering career at Liverpool, including winning the Champions League
Included: Brendan Rodgers (right) believes the defender has a future at the club under his tenure
That may be true but this has certainly been a period of readjustment for Carragher. He has not started in the Barclays Premier League, as Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have established themselves as Rodgers’ first choice defensive partnership.
Yet for all the disappointment he would inevitably feel about not featuring of a weekend, there has not been the slightest murmur of discontent from Carragher and his professionalism and attitude have left an indelible mark on Rodgers.
‘Seeing him work so hard and not giving him a shirt is the hardest part of my job,’ Rodgers continued. ‘Guys like that you want to put in the team when it matters.
'This game matters, but all players want to play in the Premier League and not picking him is the most difficult part of my job.
‘He is an incredible character and it is easy to see why he has played over 700 games for Liverpool. He is 150 per cent commitment and works to a standstill every day.’
It is quite possible that not one of the team that starts Thursday’s game here will be in the 11 that Rodgers selects to face Manchester United on Sunday and there is no disguising where Liverpool’s priorities lie.
Young Boys coach Martin Rueda has
cast doubt on how many changes Liverpool will make from the side that
played against Sunderland last weekend but Rodgers is wary of what
happened the last time he had to play two games in quick succession.
the international break, Liverpool drew 1-1 with Hearts in their Europa
League play-off at Anfield before losing insipidly against Arsenal
three days later; for that reason, Rodgers is mindful of what demands he
places on certain players.
Soul of the club: Carragher (centre) attended the vigil for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster
‘I would love to be able to enter a team in every competition that has a real chance of winning,’ said Rodgers, who has left nine first team regulars on Merseyside, including Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and Pepe Reina.
‘But the reality is we need to see where we go and I need to manage game-by-game. I can understand how people will look at this.
'But I have to do what is best for Liverpool, even though I am fully aware that the expectation every time you pull a Liverpool shirt on is that you have to win.’