Football

Spearing proves size isn't everything

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Spearing continues to grow at Liverpool. (©GettyImages)
Spearing continues to grow at Liverpool. (©GettyImages).

Any man that claims 'size doesn't matter' often leaves themselves wide open to a snigger. But, in the case of Jay Spearing, it's difficult to argue the toss.

At 5ft 6in tall, the Wirral-born midfielder has put pay to the notion that you have to be big and powerful in order to be a success in arguably the most physical league in the world.

In fact, on the Premier League's 'short' list, Spearing comes in at a relatively lofty joint-fourth in the division's smallest players - behind QPR's Shaun Wright-Phillips, Swansea's Nathan Dyer, and Tottenham's Aaron Lennon.

The difference for Spearing is that he occupies a central midfield role - a position that is often tailored towards the bigger, more imposing athletes in England's top tier.

But anyone who has seen the 23-year-old perform for Kenny Dalglish's side this season, will know that the pint-sized academy graduate has not been fazed by the challenge of stamping his authority in the heartbeat of the Liverpool team.

"A lot of people have talked about that for a long time, the size difference in the middle of the park," Spearing recently told Liverpoolfc.tv. "But I've never been scared to get into a tussle with anyone.

"I always love a tackle, so as long as I show people I can play football then it's no problem, whatever size I am. It's never been an issue for me, I've never really thought about it.

"All I think about is the football side, and hopefully I'm proving to people that the football side is there."

Spearing is proving himself at the highest level, with his fighting spirit showing all the hallmarks of a typical Liverpool player. Having turned in consistently good performances this season, the midfielder has earned praise from Anfield favourite Alan Hansen for his committed displays on the pitch.

"Just in front of the two centre-backs, Jay Spearing has done very well," the Scot told LFC Magazine. "He suffered the setback of being sent off at Fulham and then got injured against City in the League Cup after that.

"But he's always recovered from those knocks and come back stronger. That's the mark of a player for me. Every time you see Jay play, he looks as though he's been there forever.

"He's a typical Liverpool player: he gets it, he gives it, he always takes it and that's what makes it so difficult to shift him. For Kenny, it must be brilliant to have players with an attitude like that."

These opinions are also backed up by fact. According to Opta, Liverpool have won 72 per cent of the matches Spearing has started this season, compared with 53 per cent when he has not been in the team. By delving a little deeper into his individual statistics, it's clear to see he has improved in just about every area of his game.

Based on league appearances only, Spearing's passing accuracy is up from 80 per cent last season to 86 this; duels won from 61 per cent to 64; tackles completed from 68 per cent to an impressive 89 - and he's even getting better in the air, with the percentage of aerial battles won increasing from 36 per cent to 50.

Over the past two seasons, Spearing has grown at a rather rapid rate. His journey from a dynamic young player capable of sweeping the ball around the pitch, has seen him develop into a tenacious tackler, fearless in the face of battle, and capable of dictating the tempo of any game.

Who'd have thought it - size doesn't seem to matter after all.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Jay Spearing
Liverpool
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