at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has revealed he faces a struggle to prevent defender Jamie Carragher from hanging up his boots at the end of the season.
Carragher, 34, will captain Liverpool in the FA Cup third round today at Mansfield with Steven Gerrard rested and this could be his last cup run, having won the trophy in 2001 and 2006.
Rodgers wants Carragher to extend his contract before it ends in the summer but talks have been put on hold while the player considers his options. Carragher, a proud one-club man, is frustrated at being kept out by Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger and could end his playing days elsewhere or retire to pursue a career in coaching or media.
“Jamie’s contract is up and we’ve had loose discussions in terms of where he’s at,” said Rodgers. “It is largely down to him and how he’s feeling.
“When you’ve played so long at the top level and been a key figure, and then don’t have a period of playing so much, it gives you some thinking time, ‘Do I want to put my body through this every day and not have the games I’m used to?”
“You’re in the firing line at the back. There is no hiding place for a centre-half. It is not an easy decision for him but do I want him here? Of course.”
Rodgers will also rest Glen Johnson, Pepe Reina and Agger today but there could be places on the bench for top-scorer Luis Suarez and Skrtel as insurance. £12million striker Daniel Sturridge is in the squad and could make his debut.
Carragher, who made his Liverpool debut 16 years ago, has been a great help to the new manager.
“˜The will and desire of this guy is remarkable. I love every minute of working with him,” said Rodgers. “Itâ’s not been easy for him, but he’s from the old school, he has great values and ethics. He’s an icon here. He’s a wonderful example to any player, incredible.
“He’s still in great condition, he looks after himself. He’s a wonderful support to me. It [his contract] is a conversation he and I will have again.”
Mansfield’s Field Mill today is an appropriate setting for the start of John W Henry’s new era of austerity which could feature the debut of Sturridge, a New Year arrival from Chelsea. The fee was less than England fringe players Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll cost Liverpool. And his wages will be lower than the £80,000-a-week earned by Joe Cole, who left for West Ham last week with a £3m pay-off.
Henry bought Liverpool in 2010, furious that Cole had been given a bumper four-year contract. In the short term, the American made things worse by bankrolling £100m on players and giving £15m pay-offs to managers Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish. But there are signs Henry is changing things, with Raheem Sterling recently given a new contract based on performance-related bonuses.
Rodgers also says Sturridge could have earned more elsewhere. “If it was about money, he wouldn’t be here,” he said.
“I’ve seen reports he came here for £80,000 a week, which is absolutely ridiculous. It’s nowhere near that.”
Sturridge was the posterboy for the “too much, too soon” generation when Manchester City refused to pay him £60,000 a week and he joined Chelsea as a 20-year-old. Rodgers insists Sturridge has learned from his mistakes.
“He was the top young striker in Europe,” said the boss. “I saw him as a kid at Coventry and at Man City. He was a big talent and he didn’t get his contract sorted out. Then one of the next biggest clubs wanted him and he makes the wrong move. He goes to Chelsea at 20 but he’s not going to play ahead of Didier Drogba.”
Sturridge is not at Anfield to replace Suarez but to play alongside him, part of a front three with Sterling when Liverpool return to League action. - Dail Mail