Liverpool: Jay Spearing Confident the Reds Can Progress in the Europa League

Thomas AtzenhofferCorrespondent IIMarch 17, 2011

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish listens as Jay Spearing answers a question during a press conference ahead of their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 second leg match against Braga at Melwood Training Ground on March 16, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool youngster and rising first team midfielder Jay Spearing joined Manager Kenny Dalglish in the club's pre-match press conference on before their second leg rematch against Portugal's Sporting Club Braga.

The Reds crashed to a 1-0 away loss thanks to a penalty taken by Alan, and received their first loss to a side from Portugal since their ousting by Benfica in the 2005-2006 Champions League.

Andrew Carroll made his first Europa League appearance for the Reds as he came on in the second half to attempt to improve the hopes of Liverpool in taking at least a draw back home to Anfield and got a nasty elbow to the face from Braga centerback Kaka, not to be confused with his Real Madrid compatriot of the same call sign.

The Reds will continue to miss Fabio Aurelio and Martin Kelly whom are both dealing with hamstring injuries, but most of all, they will miss their captain and talisman Steven Gerrard who will be gone for another three to four weeks due to having had surgery to correct a nagging injury to his groin.

When asked about Gerrard, Spearing responded, "Obviously every game he plays [in] he has a massive influence. He showed that earlier in the campaign when he came on and scored a hat trick against Napoli."

The loss of Gerrard and several others to injury this season has also contributed to the weight of his next comments on having to step up for the team, "Its obviously a massive time for myself and the other lads to step up and stake a claim and get a good run of games in."

Spearing has been a regular in the Europa League this season under both former boss Roy Hodgson and current Manager Kenny Dalglish. The young scouser revealed what he expected from Braga tonight as he was concluding his interview.

"We saw in the first game [that] they can be very attacking and put a lot of pressure on us. Obviously we weren't happy with the way we played but we showed in the second half that if we play the way we want to play and put them under pressure and with big Andy Carroll coming on that we can cause them a lot of problems."

Andy Carroll most likely is expected to start tonight and his full compliment of height, strength and touch will be needed as the Reds have to win at the least either 2-0 of 3-1 to progress in regular time.

Spearing stated lastly that, "Obviously we are at home and we should win our home games and I believe we will."

Spoken with confidence, it will be seen tonight whether the Reds truly feel that way or not.

They have only lost three games this season at Anfield spread across all competitions. However, those losses where to Blackpool, Wolves and lowly Northhampton on penalties.

This is perhaps the biggest game of the season so far for Liverpool and it needs to be treated as such because without progression tonight the Reds will join Arsenal as another top team without a trophy in five years, having last lifted silverware in the form of the FA Cup in 2006.