Liverpool's Carroll benches Man Utd's Rooney

Hodgson may keep Rooney on the bench at Euros

Liverpool's £35 million flop Andy Carroll seems to be flourishing in his new role as England striker in the absence of Manchester United star Wayne Rooney.

New England manager Roy Hodgson was full of praise for Carroll after his performance in the 1-0 win in the friendly against Norway in Oslo on Saturday.

In particular he was pleased with the new partnership between Manchester United's Ashley Young who scored the winner and Carroll.

"Young and (Andy) Carroll have proved they can do that job," said Hodgson who picked the 23-year-old striker after sacked Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish assured that Carroll had changed his ways for the better.

"I spoke to Kenny at some length about him because I don't know him particularly well as a person and one can easily be tricked by perceptions of players and what you hear or read about them," Hodgson said.

"Kenny was absolutely convinced about the player's ability and his personality and his seriousness as a professional and when I heard that, I had no further reservations."

With Wayne Rooney suspended for England's opening two games of the European Championship, Carroll could well be leading the line when Hodgson's men kick off against France in Donetsk on June 11.

Carroll was handed his first international start in 14 months, earning just his fourth cap.

And the much-maligned forward came close to a fourth-minute opener, latching onto a cross from Liverpool teammate Stewart Downing, but heading wide.

But it was Young, supporting Carroll up front, who ensured Hodgson's reign started with an early goal.

Carroll flicked the ball from inside the England half to Young, who raced forward and spun around Brede Hangeland before striking into the net.

"I've just got to keep putting on a performance and we'll see what happens when it comes to the Euros," said Young. "I think it went well with Andy Carroll. We've worked on the partnership during training and there were a few good combinations between us."

In fact Hodgson believes Carroll could emerge as a star of Euro 2012 after forcing his way into the squad for Poland and Ukraine.

What a turn-around for the most expensive English player in history following his £35 million transfer from Newcastle to Liverpool last year who has struggled to settle at Anfield this season.

Despite a disappointing season, the towering target-man has impressed at the tail-end of Liverpool's campaign, most notably with a goalscoring cameo in the FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea.

Hodgson said that while Carroll's form for Liverpool towards the end of the season had influenced his selection, the striker had been picked for qualities not offered by the other strikers - Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe.

"The type of player he is balances up the other type of forwards we've got in the squad," Hodgson said.

"He will give me options because apart from his target-playing ability he is also a player who is capable of making runs into the channel areas and he can turn defences around and is very dangerous on crosses."

Hodgson also brushed off concerns about Carroll's poor form for Liverpool earlier in the season - a factor that ironically contributed to Dalglish's dismissal from Anfield.

"I think it's hard for players when they go to big clubs," Hodgson said.
"It's more important how he's playing at the moment.

"I don't think I should be confronting him with the failures of the early part of the season - I think I should be encouraging him with the successes of the latter part of the season."

Click here to read End of Arsenal: Van Persie to go...


Liverpool to lose Suarez, keep Carroll

Liverpool's record signing Andy Carroll may escape the guillotine but Luis Suarez and Martin Skrtel may be on their way out of Anfield.

Recalled England striker Carroll has seen a change in his fortunes in the latter part of the season.

But the club's American owners have launched an austerity drive to offset the loss of failing to qualify for the Champions League for a third successive season.

Fenway Sports Group want to introduce a five-year plan to bring success back to a club that has been plunged into chaos by Kenny Dalglish’s departure. After backing the Kop legend to the tune of £120 million during his 16-month tenure, the Americans are looking for a man to target young, inexpensive talent and bring through graduates from the academy.

The plan to slash the transfer budget is unlikely to impress Suarez and Skrtel when they open talks about new contracts this summer.

Suarez has been targeted by Italian champions Juventus and their rivals AC Milan and has admitted that he would like to experience life in Italy or Spain – while player-of-the-season Skrtel is wanted by Fiorentina, according to the Sunday Mirror.

Liverpool are planning to offer the pair – and defender Daniel Agger – new deals in a bid to block any foreign interest.

Suarez's ambition when he joined from Ajax last year was to see Liverpool win the Champions League.

But Liverpool finished eighth in the Premier League – a massive 37 points behind champions Manchester City and 17 points adrift of the top four.

To add to their woes, the Kop image took a battering when Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

The incident was partly resonsible for Dalglish's downfall after he staunly defended the controversial striker for his actions.

Little wonder Suarez is looking for an exit strategy and admitted last week that he considered a move out of England.

He said: “I hope to play in Spain in the future because together with the English and Italian leagues, it is the best in the world.”

Juventus are ready to offer the 25-year-old an escape route to Serie A and are willing to pay up to £30m as they look to make an assault on the Champions League, the report added.

Sktrel has resisted Fiorentina’s overtures for the past 12 months, but the Italians are expected to return with an offer of £20m.

The 28-year-old Slovakian centre-back will be unwilling to spend the peak years of his career at a club whose future looks uncertain.

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