Monday 18 December 2017

Carlisle United star and Pool fan Gary Dicker looks to shock boyhood idols

Carlisle ace Dicker aiming to shock Liverpool

Dubliner Gary Dicker, pictured here in Brighton colours, will be hoping to shock Liverpool with Carlisle United in tonight’s League Cup clash at Anfield
Dubliner Gary Dicker, pictured here in Brighton colours, will be hoping to shock Liverpool with Carlisle United in tonight’s League Cup clash at Anfield

Given that he was born in 1986, Dubliner Gary Dicker is one of those Liverpool supporters who is too young to remember seeing his club win a league title and has instead had to celebrate cup successes.

As someone who now earns his wages with Carlisle United, Dicker hopes that the English League Cup does not end up at Anfield this season, his League Two outfit heading to Liverpool tonight.

"I missed the game the previous times we played Liverpool, we got them twice when I was at Brighton but I was injured, so going to Anfield this week is a big deal for me," says Dublin-born midfield Dicker ahead of Carlisle's trip to Merseyside.

"I'm a Liverpool fan all my life, they have been hard years at times and I have never seen them win the league. Back when I was a kid playing back home, if you'd offered me the chance to play at Anfield in a Cup tie, I'd have bitten your hand off.

"In the past I'd have loved to see Liverpool win the League Cup but I really hope it's us in the next round," he added.

"They are one of the top teams in the Premier League, even if they have a weakened team tonight they will have lots of internationals. So we can't go there hung-ho, but we won't just park the bus either. All the pressure's on them, not on us." Now in his ninth season as a pro in England (he was at Stockport, Brighton, Rochdale and Crawley before his 2014 move to Carlisle), Dicker has played in almost every ground outside of the top flight, the high points a two-year spell in the Championship with Brighton.

His League of Ireland education, with UCD, gave him a grounding for what was to come in England. "I have played against a lot of top players over here but I don't think I'd have done anything over here without that experience in the league," he says.

He is planning ahead, as the former Cherry Orchard lad will sit exams for his UEFA A badge and he has also set up a youth academy in Carlisle with a team-mate, Dicker sensing an appetite for the game up there, Carlisle a club able to take 6,000 fans to tonight's game.

That's part of the long term plan but, short term, his goal is clear. "I haven't scored in a while, one goal in the last two years," he says.

"So I'd love to nick a goal tonight. All that stuff about not celebrating against a club you played for or supported, that will go out the window if I manage to score in front of the Kop"

Meanwhile, Gary McAllister believes Liverpool's players should be thriving under the growing pressure at Anfield.

Liverpool - and particularly manager Brendan Rodgers - are facing increased scrutiny after a mixed start to the season.

Former Reds midfielder McAllister, now Rodgers' first-team coach, feels the team need to step up and deliver.

The 50-year-old said: "There is always pressure when results don't go well at a club like Liverpool. It has not changed since the days I played here.

"A couple of poor results and the heat is on, you are under the microscope. Players have got to thrive under that pressure. That is the thing that drives you. You have got to grow and cope with the demands of playing here."

Having not won since August, McAllister accepts it is time for the team to step up and believes tonight's League Cup third-round tie against could provide the perfect springboard.

McAllister, speaking at a press conference to preview the game on Rodgers' behalf, said: "We need to give the fans something to shout about. It is ideal to get a little run going.

"But we are thoroughly aware it is not going to be easy. They are not going to come here and roll over."

McAllister knows all about the worth of the League Cup having been a member of the Liverpool side that won it in 2001 and then kicked on to follow up with FA Cup and UEFA Cup successes.

He said: "Winning it, that was the start. In the early rounds you gather momentum and then there is greater belief. It led on to a really good season."

Changes are likely but McAllister suggested these may be kept to a minimum.

He said: "You have got to utilise the players you have got but we have got to get some momentum going as well. We want some stability in the shape and style so it will be similar to the weekend."

Christian Benteke will miss the game with a hamstring injury but fellow new signing Danny Ings could get a chance up front after scoring off the bench in Sunday's draw against Norwich.

McAllister said: "It was really refreshing to see his performance. If anyone deserved a goal it was Danny. He has been working his socks off. It is not by fluke, it is by pure hard work that he managed to get that chance and finish it so well."

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