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Fierce competition: Steven Gerrard must fight for his place in Liverpool’s first team, says Kenny Dalglish Photo: AP
Dalglish says that, in more than a decade at Anfield, Gerrard has done as much for Liverpool “as anyone”, and is at pains to stress that neither captain nor vice-captain would ever be taken for granted at a club which reveres its icons more than most.
But the Liverpool manager knows he now has a squad of such depth and quality that reputation alone will not be enough to secure either player a place in his first-choice side.
“Nobody will get picked for their history,” said Dalglish. “The people who have been involved with the club for a long time would not expect that. They would not want it. They have got extremely high standards that they set for themselves. If they did not, they would would not be here and they would not have had the success they have had.
“There is no player that will ever get taken for granted here. There are players who you will always appreciate what they have done for the football club and [Gerrard] is certainly one of them. He has done as much for the club as anyone else.
“Jamie is very comfortable with what he has done, and Steven is too. I’m sure the people that follow us will be just as happy about their contributions to the club.”
Gerrard is not expected to be rushed back to face Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon after more than six months out with a groin injury which has required two operations and a further spell in hospital on a course of antibiotics to combat infection, but will most likely be returned to action in the midweek Carling Cup tie with Brighton.
Carragher has stood in as captain in his friend’s absence, but though question marks linger over the 33-year-old’s form – it was his foul on Jonathan Walters which led to Stoke’s decisive penalty at the Britannia Stadium last week as Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season – Dalglish insists the veteran defender is retaining his place on merit.
“Jamie Carragher will do me just fine the way he is,” he said. “I’ve got no problem with any of the boys. I don’t know what I can say about him because there is nothing that I would like to change about him.”
Meanwhile Ledley King is confident that this season will not be his last at Tottenham.
King, who joined Tottenham in 1998, is in the final year of his contract and manager Harry Redknapp says the defender must play at least 20 games to earn an extension.
King has been troubled by injury throughout his career and rarely trains with the Tottenham squad as his knees swell up after every game.
The 30 year-old underwent an operation on his troublesome knee this summer in an attempt to make sure that he would get a full campaign under his belt but he missed the first two league games before returning to star in the club’s 2-0 win at Wolves last week.
King wants to put his last year’s injury “nightmare” behind him and is sure will get enough game time under his belt to earn a new deal. “Is 20 games a realistic target? Yes, I aim to play as many as I can,” King said.
“If I can just manage the knee, there is no reason I can’t play quite regularly.”
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