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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 24, 2007

Carragher tips Hobbs to be a star of the future

Teenager Jack Hobbs is standing by for his Liverpool debut with the full backing of Anfield lynchpin Jamie Carragher.

The 19 year-old, signed from Lincoln little more than a year ago, is expected to play in central defence at Reading tomorrow in the Carling Cup.

It is a case of 'needs must' for Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, with key defender Daniel Agger out injured.

But Hobbs will likely be part of a Liverpool side full of youngsters and squad players for the third round tie.

Hobbs has been elevated to first-team squad training in the past week.

And Carragher, who could well be asked to shepherd the Portsmouth-born youngster through the match, says of his possible partner: 'Jack has done very well and we have been impressed with him in training.

'He came in from Lincoln and was a massive part of us winning the Youth Cup two years on the trot.

'Now he is captain of the reserves and he deserves his chance. That is what the club is about, giving young lads the chance to play alongside our foreign players.

'People sometimes complain about the amount of foreign players coming in, so it is good that a good English lad can get the chance to show what he can do.

'He deserves his chance, but that is up to the manager. Someone will be asked to play alongside him, but the lad might end up helping one of us through the game.

'Everyone needs help, no matter who they are. If he gets his chance I am sure he will grab it and do well.'

Benitez wants to utilise several fringe players at Reading, but will not want to weaken the side to the extent that he could gift the tie to the Berkshire club.

It is also expected that Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva will figure in the tie, as well as winger Sebastian Leto.

The likes of Moroccan midfielder Nabil El Zhar, fit-again Fabio Aurelio and young defender Emiliano Insua could also be involved.

Benitez is also expected to include Yossi Benayoun, who missed Saturday's goalless draw with Birmingham because of the Jewish day of atonement.

Peter Crouch and even Fernando Torres, both on the bench against Birmingham, could also play.

Benitez said: 'For some of the players who are not playing too much in the Premier League or the Champions League, this will be an important competition for them.

'It is a trophy I would be happy to win, the first season I was here we got to the final. I would like to be in the final again.

'Some of the senior players will have to play against Reading, I will not change the whole team. It depends on who is available and what cover we have in certain positions.

However, it seems unlikely that Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano or Dirk Kuyt will be in the squad while Jermaine Pennant has a hamstring injury.

'But I would hope to give players who are not playing regularly in the Premier League the chance to play.'

Benitez added: 'It is clear, though, that with a big squad we need to see some of the other players.

'They must be involved because you cannot have them in the squad and then tell them you will not use them in any game.

'If we stay in the Carling Cup, the FA Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League they will obviously have more chances to play.'