The ups and downs of this season might cause many to eagerly embrace the run-in to the final match of the campaign, but the crossing off of each match day on the calendar also means one fewer match left for Jamie Carragher in a red shirt. Much debate currently rages over how best to bolster the back line in the off season, but speaking to the club's match day program folks, Carra suggested two Academy graduates could stake their claim on his old position.
"You look at Andre Wisdom and Martin Kelly particularly," Carragher said. "It's mainly because they are young center-backs that have gone into the team playing fullback to gain experience.
"It's very hard to go straight into any Premier League team and play in the middle immediately. But they've done very well over the last 12 to 18 months. I'm very confident that they could play centre-back for Liverpool once they have the experience. Being physically stronger and quicker, if they can learn the game they can maybe have a bigger impact at the club than myself."
At nineteen years-old, Wisdom is still very much a raw product, despite having started eleven times in the league for the club this season. Although his numbers speak more to the chronic lack of depth at right-back this season than anything else, Wisdom acquitted himself well in the unfamiliar position and impressed enough to sign a long-term contract extension in January .
Martin Kelly is the more familiar face of the two, having played a dozen or so matches in each of the two previous seasons before being sidelined with a ruptured ACL this year. Kelly's fragility has been a concern for some — his multiple hamstring problems prior to his ACL layoff are not exactly confidence-building — but if the club's team of wonder physios and sports scientists can work the same magic on Kelly as they have on the likes of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger, it's entirely reasonable to hope he could spend more time on the pitch than off next season.
In either case, neither player is quite yet ready for the return to centre-back to partner Daniel Agger once Carragher hangs up his boots for good. Neither player's name has been seriously tossed around as potential partners for the Dane, even considering the wildly panicked rumours involving literally all LFC defenders not named Agger being on their way out. Kelly may be the more likely of the two to feature at the position next season in cup ties if Brendan Rodgers feels he's up for it, but Wisdom will likely continue at right-back if only to gain first-team minutes.
While both young players have cited Carragher as someone they looked up to as they came through the Academy, Carra insists he that if he leads it's only by example and not as a conscious effort to teach anyone a thing or two.
"I would never do something for effect or to impress somebody. I'm just fortunate that's the way I am. I couldn't be any different. It's not like I go into training some days and think, 'You know what, I'm going to have a go today.' I'm just quite competitive.
"If we have a five-a-side game or a game of possession at the end, I want to win. I was like that as a kid and I think if I played on for another four or five years I'd be the same."
Don't rub it in, Carra, this is hard enough already.