Liverpool Club Focus – Kelly continues to impress

England boss Fabio Capello has recently been singing the praises of highly-rated Liverpool youngster Martin Kelly, and based on the 21-year-old’s terrific performances over the last year, it is easy to see why he is catching the Italian’s eye. Tough-tackling Kelly may have started his promising career as a composed centre-half, but he is now blossoming into a rock-solid, modern-day full-back. At one stage last season, when many of Dalglish’s first-team defenders were injured, it seemed as though the Reds would eventually have to splash the cash on a quality right-sided full-back. But now, right-back seems to be one of Liverpool’s strongest departments on the pitch. This is somewhat thanks to the emergence of Kelly.

The 6 ft 3 in defender was handed his dream Liverpool debut against PSV in the Champions League towards the end of 2008. In the following season, the attack-minded full-back played in three competitive games, however, it was during the 2010/11 campaign where his career really took off. First trusted by Roy Hodgson and then Dalglish, Kelly put in a number of superb performances, impressing fans with his surging runs down the right flank and his well-timed tackling. At one point, natural right-back and England international Glen Johnson was shifted to the left, just to make space for Kelly who was playing so well.

Unfortunately, the local boy has had his fair share of injuries to deal with over the course of his fledgling career. Back problems forced him out of the game for around two years as a youth, while a groin injury affected him in 2009/10. More recently, Kelly suffered from a hamstring injury in February, which ruled him out for the remainder of the last campaign. Another hamstring problem saw him taken off against Bolton last week, although Kelly insists he should be back very quickly.

Despite his injuries, many Reds supporters believe that Kelly, who has been compared with Kop hero Jamie Carragher due to his versatility at the back, is an England star in the making. But Kelly is keeping his feet on the ground. He said: “I’ve been brought up to have my feet on the ground and that’s where they will stay. I don’t think you can take anything for granted in football. Things change so quickly. You’ve got to be on top of your game all the time, there’s always competition coming in. You’ve got to keep working hard because it’s a short career and you have to make the most of it.”

It appears as though the youngster has the right character to progress at Anfield and under the guidance of Dalglish, who is not afraid to give youth a chance, Kelly could continue to gain a lot of playing time under his belt this season. That could eventually see the current England Under-21 international called up to the senior side – something that Kelly would be delighted with. “It’s a massive thing to be thought of to be in that senior squad – it’s great to have had a little mention off the England manager,” he said.

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