Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish says sentiment will play no part when it comes to deciding whether Andy Carroll is fit to face Newcastle on Sunday.
After netting his first Reds goals in the win over Manchester City earlier this month, Carroll has been struggling with a knee injury sustained in the draw with Arsenal just days later, and was absent as Dalglish’s men ran riot in a 5-0 win over Birmingham on Saturday.
But the 22-year-old has responded well to treatment and is said to be desperate to face the club he left behind in January for 35 million pounds.
Dalglish, however, says Carroll’s long-term well-being comes before any nostalgia.
“We will take an educated opinion on whether he is fit or not,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
“If he is not fit then it will be a disappointment for Andy but he’s here for five years and I’m sure he’ll get the chance to play Newcastle more than just this Sunday coming up.”
“His future comes long before a game against Newcastle.”
Sunday’s clash against Alan Pardew’s men gives Liverpool the chance to maintain their late push for a European qualification spot.
Dalglish’s men have taken 27 points from their past 14 league fixtures, and have closed to within just three points of fifth-placed Tottenham.
The manager, however, insists that his side will take things one step at a time, and has refused to look beyond the visit of 10th-placed Newcastle.
“We will just look at the next game and see what happens,” Dalglish said.
“It is going to be a difficult game but where we are going to end up at the end of the season I don’t know.”
Toon boss Pardew, meanwhile, says his side must be wary of the threat posed by their former star Carroll, but believes Saturday’s emphatic victory over Birmingham has given his opposite number a selection dilemma, with Maxi Rodriguez, Carroll’s replacement, having netted a hat-trick in the 5-0 win.
“We know what an excellent player Andy is,” said Pardew, who was critical of Carroll following his record-breaking move to Anfield.
“But after the way they played at the weekend, he might not even start!”
“That would be very much like Kenny, to keep the same side. But if he plays then we must be aware of his threat.”
Pardew has challenged his team to smash their 17-year-old league hoodoo at Anfield.
The Magpies have not picked up three points in the top flight at the Reds’ famous home since Kevin Keegan’s side won with goals from Andy Cole and Rob Lee in 1994, but Pardew is refusing to dwell on the past.
“We’re going to go to Liverpool with confidence. There’s still a lot to play for, and we want to give our fans a good day.”
“I think we’re definitely safe now. The most important thing at Blackpool was our energy. Blackpool hadn’t had a game, and it showed.”
“It evens it up at this level. Our energy levels will be the same as Liverpool’s, so we’ll give a much better account of ourselves against a team in good form.”
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