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Injuries threaten to derail Arsenal

Arsenal
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Dalglish will not rush Gerrard

Interim Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish will not rush captain Steven Gerrard back into the first team in order to preserve him for the rest of the season.

Liverpool entertain Sparta Prague in the last-32 of the Europa League on Thursday, after a first-leg which finished goalless, but Dalglish is wary of rushing Gerrard back into the fray and losing him for longer.

He told the club's official website: "Steven is almost there. Whether he gets there in time or not remains to be seen, but we're not going to push somebody into a game that's not quite ready.

"As much as Steven would love to play and we'd love to have him, I think we've got to think a bit longer term than just one game. But if he's fit and well, he'll come under consideration like everybody else.

"I think it's important we adopt the same philosophy as we've had before with the likes of Jay Spearing, who could have carried on a little bit longer with his injury but we wanted to get it done and dusted and get him looked after.

"Daniel Agger was the same, Martin Skrtel got a rest last week (against Sparta), Martin Kelly got a rest, so I think we've got to be consistent in our approach to things and if there is any doubt whatsoever, if we can get by without Steven then we will do. Daniel is fit now, so he's up for consideration.''

Gerrard trained apart from the rest of the first-team squad on Wednesday and is more likely to return at West Ham on Sunday.

Dalglish also said fans should not expect to see record signing Andrew Carroll to make his debut for some time yet as he continues his rehabilitation from a thigh injury suffered over the festive period.

"He has done everything that has been expected of him up to this time,'' said Dalglish. "The medical people and ourselves on the football side are delighted with his progress.

"He's still got a bit to go before he'll be considered for a match, but he's probably a little bit ahead of schedule rather than behind schedule. It's great for him and it's great for us. He wants to get a game but obviously patience is again a word that we need to adopt for him and for us.

"There's not going to be a surprise announcement that he's playing tomorrow night.''

The match will also be his first as Liverpool manager at home in European competition since returning to the helm. He said: "I'm sure tomorrow night is going to be special but it's more important that we get a result because, if we do, that will make it even more worthwhile.

"For me, I'm only a small part of it and although I am really looking forward to it and it's a great honour to be in charge of Liverpool on a European night, it will more enjoyable if we get a result. The result is more important than the pre-match show.

"Anfield has had some memorable evenings. European nights are always special for many clubs, but certainly for this club. Tomorrow night is obviously an earlier kick-off than we're used to and it will take a bit of adjustment from the players and the fans, but I'm sure that won't deter them from giving us their full support.

"We've got to get them onside early doors. The responsibility is on us to go and win the game, but fortunately for us that's nothing new. The responsibility has been on us many times to go and win games.''

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