Club Focus – Liverpool – Club and country to butt heads over Carroll’s summer

Liverpool’s record signing, Andy Carroll, scored as England could only manage a draw against World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana at Wembley last night. Carroll’s participation in the friendly will not have worried Kenny Dalglish that much, after all the striker was not used against Wales at the weekend, and the game against the Black Stars was a good opportunity to rack up some minutes with the added bonus of an international goal. However, Dalglish is likely to be worried about Stuart Pearce’s plans to call Carroll up to the Under-21 squad for the UEFA Championships this summer.

Carroll, who completed a dramatic deadline day move to Merseyside in January, has recently returned to action from a thigh-injury which kept him out for around two months. Dalglish treated Carroll with caution before allowing him to make his Liverpool debut and now the Scot could face the prospect of his star signing burning himself out in order to gain tournament experience during the summer. So should Carroll take part in the competition, or rest?

Liverpool will argue that they are the ones who pay Carroll’s wages therefore it should be up to them whether or not he participates in the competition in the summer. Dalglish could argue that Carroll will be in need of rest this summer in order to get himself totally over his recent lay-off and ensure the injury does not occur again. And the Reds could finally argue that Carroll has made the step up to senior level and he should not be made to step back down to the Under-21s for the sake of a relatively minor trophy.

But Pearce’s case is also a compelling one. The former Manchester City boss has already admitted that he feels England should be using their very best young players for the tournament in order to stand a chance of winning it. Pearce argues that other prospering nations send their strongest teams to such tournaments so why shouldn’t England? And the overall feeling within the England camp is that success at Under-21 level could help the players as they progress in their careers – possibly leading to the national side having a good run in the World Cup.

This will not only be a problem for Dalglish. Pearce is also adamant on bringing Arsenal starlet Wilshere into the mix during the summer and there will undoubtedly be other club managers unhappy with such plans. However, Carroll is a special case. The former Newcastle star cost Liverpool around £35m and is now considered one of the club’s key players. His wages are also rumoured to be quite high and there will be questions asked about whether the FA would be liable to cover Carroll’s wages if he was injured on international duty.

Whether Dalglish would be happy to release Carroll during the summer or not remains to be seen, but there are sure to be some heated discussions between club and country in the build up to the tournament.

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