May 7 2012
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes team-mate Andy Carroll has made a late case to go to the European Championships with England.
Carroll, the club's record signing, was their outstanding player in Saturday's 2-1 FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea despite only coming on as a substitute with 35 minutes to go. By that time the Reds were trailing to goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba after a woeful Reds' performance allowed the Stamford Bridge side to seize the initiative.
Gerrard said: "I think his form the last two or three months has been fantastic and he is certainly pushing for a place back in the England squad in my opinion."
Carroll's introduction changed the dynamic almost totally in Liverpool's favour as the 23-year-old struck a well-taken goal and had a late header clawed off the line by goalkeeper Petr Cech, but what was more impressive, was the former Newcastle's forward's all-round contribution as he worked hard to get involved and link-up play.
He has not had the best of starts to his Anfield career, scoring just eight goals this season, but has shown signs of progress in the last couple of months.
Gerrard believes that is something new England manager - and briefly Carroll's boss at Liverpool last year - Roy Hodgson should take into consideration.
"Credit to Andy who came on and played brilliantly well," said the captain of Carroll's introduction. "He changed the way we played. We were a lot better with him in the team, we were a lot more direct, we created more, we were more of a threat."
The debate over whether Carroll's far-post header went over the line may still be raging but Gerrard was sympathetic to the difficulties faced by referee Phil Dowd and his assistant Andrew Garratt.
"It is difficult for officials to give decisions like that," admitted Gerrard. "There is an argument that maybe it is [over the line] on the computer image but when you look at the replay...
"Phil Dowd is standing by me and the linesman is 40 yards away - it is impossible to give a yes or a no on it. We have been debating technology for years and it will continue until it comes in. The officials need a bit of help."