Liverpool are one of the few Barclays Premier League clubs with a squad big enough to handle the intense Christmas fixture schedule, and Kenny Dalglish has backed the players on the periphery of his first-team to play a major part during a busy festive period.

The Reds boss is planning to utilise his squad to the maximum in December and January - meaning fringe players like Andy Carroll will be given a chance to make an impact at Anfield.

"Everybody's got to be prepared and ready to play," said Dalglish. "They will all expect to play some part in some of the games, and Andy Carroll is no different.

"The performances in the Carling Cup where we've made a lot of changes for all the games, it's proved to the players and the people who've been watching the players who haven't played as much as they'd like that they're very capable of stepping in.

"Everybody will get an opportunity, and Andy like every one of them is ready to step in and play. There is no individual we are not comfortable with putting in."

After struggling to rediscover his best form since making his £35million move to Merseyside in January, Carroll is under increasing pressure to perform.

His barren run in front of goal, twinned with the side's low-scoring return this season, has led to speculation that Dalglish may re-enter the transfer market in the New Year in search of additional firepower.

"There will always be speculation but it's not a Panini sticker book," he continued. "We're happy with what we have got.

"It doesn't matter what we say, there's going to be speculation, we have the option to add if we want to but, also the other option, we don't have to, and we're more than happy with this squad, they've done brilliantly.

"Everyone keeps throwing up exams for people, but I think they've stood the test of time. They've done brilliantly, all of them. They've got to the semi-final of the Carling Cup, what else can you ask for?

"They've done as much as they possibly could with the opportunities they have had. We have said many times we are happy with what they have done on and off the pitch and that doesn't change."

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