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Shelvey Pencils in Blackpool Return, and Other Wednesday Notes

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Coming soon to a small Eastern European hamlet you've never heard of before: Hoofing. Lots and lots of hoofing. But also love and tears and wholesome family entertainment. And hoofing. But before we get to that…


* Leading up to the League Cup final against Cardiff, there was talk of Jonjo Shelvey heading out on loan. It turned out to be false, but rumours that he was heading to Middlesborough did lead Blackpool officials to make clear that if he were to head back out, they'd been promised by Liverpool that they were at the front of the line. Now, despite that Liverpool's race for fourth seems finished and there's a convincing argument for playing Shelvey regularly in the Premier League no matter who's available, Blackpool's club secretary has suggested that the only thing holding up his return is Steven Gerrard's injury:

We have been told that Liverpool won't let Jonjo out until Gerrard is completely fit. Jonjo wants to come to Blackpool and we want him here, and we will keep stalking Liverpool until we get him.

The physio at Anfield is a friend of mine and I will be sending him plenty of texts over the next week or so to check on Gerrard's fitness. We are also in close contact with Liverpool's director of football, Damien Comolli, and we hope we will be able to get Jonjo back at some stage.

At least one of Liverpool's kids may get a chance to play regularly in coming weeks, then. It just won't be at Liverpool as part of an effort to gauge if he might be ready to play a more significant role next season.

* A poor performance by Jamie Carragher against Arsenal is hardly an isolated incident in the here and now, even if an extended spell on the bench was always going to send people's memories drifting back to the glory days rather than recent years when considering the question of whether he was still the best man to start on Saturday. Inevitably, too, with such a poor outing just a week after he involved his son in every aspect of the League Cup celebration, it was always going to end in questions about Carragher's current role in the team and whether he sees much of a future in it any more.

Privately at times I'm frustrated but that's because I'm a footballer, I want to play and I'm passionate—I wouldn't be here in the first place otherwise. But I realise this happens to everyone at a certain age. It also reminds me what I've done.

I've played for Liverpool's first-team pretty much every week for 16 years. When you do it every week it slips your mind a little, but when you play the odd game against Oldham or Brighton at Anfield in the cups and you leave the pitch knowing you've won well and done all right yourself, it's a great feeling.

He also hints that despite his recent drop down the depth chart, he can't imagine riding off into the sunset any time soon. Instead, with Europe assured, Carragher has turned to dreaming of winning one more time on the continent before he calls it a day:

I want to win more before the end of my career. That's why I'm desperate for the FA Cup and to play in Europe again.

At the moment we're definitely in the Europa League and I know people knock it but I'd love to reach the final of that competition. I've been to three in Europe so far. To have four in your career would be a fantastic achievement.

* Speaking of already having secured European competition next season, as Carragher did above and we have on a few occasions over the past week, there's some good news and bad news to get to on that front. The good news is that no matter how the rest of the season goes in the league and FA Cup, Liverpool is in Europe, and as a season off from it has made clear, even UEFA's second-tier competition is a step up over no competition at all.

The bad news, though, is that as it stands today, Liverpool would play their first game in the Europa League in the first week of August, over two weeks before the Premier League begins and while the London Olympics are still in full swing. This is because of the three qualifying slots given to England for the competition, the one given to the League Cup winner falls below the spots given for the FA Cup and league standing—in short, it's the equivalent of qualifying for the Champions League in fourth place and having to play in earlier qualifying rounds because of it, only minus most of the potential for glory.

Further problems could be caused by the fact that some Liverpool players are expected to be involved in those Olympics. It's also worth noting that at present, the club's plans for a North American tour run up to July 28th, less than a week before they'd have to kick off their Europa League campaign. All of which means that by the time August begins, Liverpool fans might well have switched back to feeling largely negative about being back in the Europa League instead of just being glad to be back in Europe at all.

We'll be back with any breaking news later, but in the meantime I've got some good news, some bad news, and something completely different…