'Carroll rumours rubbish'
LIVERPOOL manager Kenny Dalglish has dismissed rumours of Andy Carroll's potential exit as having "absolutely no foundation whatsoever".
Reports suggested the £35million club record signing's former club Newcastle were preparing a cheeky cut-price bid to take the England international back to his native north east.
The Magpies have played down the speculation and it is understood there has been no contact between the two clubs.
Caroll's representatives have also insisted they have neither been told to look for, nor are seeking, a move for their player.
Dalglish was dismissive when asked about whether the rumours could unsettle the striker, who has scored four goals this season but has yet to find his best form since his transfer almost 12 months ago.
"I am worried about the people that invent them," he said. "You have absolutely no foundation whatsoever (for the stories). I don't need to justify what is in the paper. I have stood up -- and always will stand up -- for the players."
Turning the argument around on journalists at his post-match press conference after the 1-0 Carling Cup semi-final first leg win over Manchester City, Dalglish added: "You justify your profession and you justify the story."
Newcastle, meanwhile, were refusing to become involved in the soap opera surrounding Carroll's future.
As they attempt to fend off any interest in their current leading marksman, Demba Ba, the Tyneside club played down speculation that Carroll could be heading back to the north east.
In addition, Carroll himself has told friends he will not be returning to Newcastle with Luis Suarez's eight-game suspension likely to hand him the chance to finally establish himself in Kenny Dalglish's team.
The link with Carroll is perhaps understandable with Ba, the man who has taken over his mantle on Tyneside with such aplomb, having himself been thrust into the headlines in recent days.
Much to the Magpies' annoyance, news of a release clause in his contract has been made public to leave them on red alert for an approach during their current transfer window.
Ba headed off to meet up with the Senegal squad for the African Nations Cup having enhanced his reputation enormously with 15 goals banked in his Newcastle account already.
Alan Pardew snapped up the 26-year-old on a free transfer during the summer after West Ham's relegation triggered a clause in his contract.
Pardew pounced while others hovered, concerned about the player's fitness after he failed a medical at Stoke in January last year.
Although there was no transfer fee involved, the deal was complicated and had significant financial implications, and any attempt to lure him away might prove similarly convoluted and expensive.
In the meantime, the Magpies will concentrate on their own January targets with a central defender their main concern, although despite Pardew's admission that the addition of another striker was unlikely, they have rekindled their interest in Paris St Germain's Mevlut Erding.
It is perhaps in midfield where the manager enjoys his greatest strength in depth, although he suffered a setback today when it emerged that teenager Sammy Ameobi could be missing for several months.
The 19-year-old limped off during a 3-1 reserve team victory over Wigan after a 50-50 challenge, and tests have indicated significant damage.