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Carragher urges focus in run-in

Veteran Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher admits it is difficult for the squad not to start thinking about next season already after a disappointing campaign.

• Gerrard undergoes surgery
• Carroll still targeting Europe

However, he expects the players to maintain a professional attitude in the final seven matches as there is still an outside chance of qualifying for Europe.

Most of the damage was done in the first six months of the season when the team lost nine matches in the Barclays Premier League under Roy Hodgson.

That prompted a change of leadership with the former Fulham boss making way to allow club icon Kenny Dalglish to have a second spell in charge.

Results have improved but securing fifth place still seems some way off and their exit from the Europa League to Braga at the last-16 stage ended any chance the campaign could end in success.

The fact captain Steven Gerrard will miss the remainder of Liverpool's matches with a groin problem has only hastened the feeling that the summer cannot come quick enough.

"Stevie is probably looking at next season now - and rightly so - and getting himself right but we have to look at the games we have got coming up,'' said the Reds vice-captain ahead of Monday's visit of Manchester City. "But I think everyone, at the back of their mind, is probably looking towards next season after we went out of the Europa League as well. But we want to do really well in this season to try to get as close as we can to a European place.

"There has been a feelgood factor at the club since the new owners (Fenway Sports Group), Kenny and a couple of new signings (Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez) came in. We don't want that to fizzle out between now and the end of the season, we want to keep it going with some good results. For us as players we have to concentrate between now and the end of the season.''

That focus has been lacking in a couple of matches, having lost to strugglers West Ham in late February and West Brom last weekend. It is a situation Carragher admits the team cannot afford against City.

"Since the manager has come in he and players have done great but last few weeks we have not had the results we would have liked,'' said the 33-year-old. "It is important we get back on track. It is a massive game and it being a night game at Anfield always adds a little bit more to it.

"City have some good players and had a good result (thrashing Sunderland 5-0 last weekend) and with our injuries they probably fancy their chances. This is another game people will not expect us to do well in so we have to prove people wrong. It won't be easy but this could be the type of game we need because we were disappointed with the way we played and the result after the last game.''

In addition to Gerrard's absence, Liverpool will also be without defender Daniel Agger - whose season has been ended by a knee injury - and full-backs Glen Johnson and Martin Kelly (both hamstring injuries).


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