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By ESPN Staff

Dalglish plays down Lucas loss

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has tried to lessen the significance of the loss of midfielder Lucas Leiva by insisting all his players have crucial roles to play.

Dalglish has to contend with being without his defensive midfielder for the rest of the season. And while the Brazil international has been key to most of what has been good about the side this season, Dalglish is confident the quality of the team will absorb the loss.

"Every role is important," said Dalglish. "Lucas has had a fair bit of credit and there is not much more we can add to what has happened to him.

"The (defensive midfield) role is important but every single person in the team has an important role to play. We will make our decisions but we won't disclose how we will solve our problems."

Academy graduate and former reserve team captain Jay Spearing would appear to be the most likely replacement as he shares many of the same attributes as the injured Brazilian.

Spearing deputised for the injured Steven Gerrard at the end of last season and Dalglish rates the 24-year-old, having given him a proper first-team chance when he replaced Roy Hodgson as manager in January.

Another option would be to play summer signing Jordan Henderson in his favoured central position, while Jonjo Shelvey has been recalled from a loan spell at Blackpool as cover.

"We are not going to start dancing on someone's grave; at the end of the day the boy (Lucas) is injured but we have adequate replacements there,"' said Dalglish, who ruled out a recall for Alberto Aquilani, on loan at AC Milan.

"Jay has done really well since I came in here and we do trust him. We believe in him and we will stand by them (the players) as long as they go out there and give what they have to give."

Ideally he would like to have Gerrard available but the captain is still continuing his rehabilitation from an ankle infection which has sidelined him since October 22.

"Stevie is still progressing really well - without putting a date on his comeback - but we have to manage it," said Dalglish.

"We're not the only club who has an injury which means we have to fulfil our obligations by using the squad. It is at times like this you are tested but we have been happy with the squad and the results we have had reflect that.''

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