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Spearing, Jay

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by Dave Usher


Date of Birth - 25/11/88

Nationality - English

Position - Midfield

Squad Number - 26

Club Hons (Lpool) - League Cup 2012, FA Youth Cup 2006, 2007 Reserve League North 2007/08, National Reserve Title 2007/08

Intnl Hons - None

Other clubs - Leicester City (loan), Bolton Wanderers(loan)


Jay is a talented footballer who has captained the club at various junior levels up to the reserves. He's small in stature but big in heart, and is a very vocal player and a great leader. A good footballer who reads the game well, he's a central midfielder by trade but has also impressed in the centre of defence and at right back.


He made his u17 debut in the 2003/04 season as a 15 year old, but despite his lack of experience he was quite prepared to shout at his team-mates and make his presence felt. He dropped back into the u16 set up for the start of the 2004/05 season, playing a major role in their impressive run of results, earning his promotion to the u18 set up for the youth cup campaign. He played in the centre of midfield, despite being used in defence for the u16s for the majority of that season.


He made an outstanding start to the 2005/06 season and even managed to get on the scoresheet in an away win at Middlesboro before he sustained a broken leg in only the fourth game of the season. He returned as good as ever, flying into a 50/50 in the opening minutes of his comeback game, and forced his way into the youth cup squad in time for the closing stages.


With the Reds desperately clinging onto to a 3-2 aggregate lead in the 2nd leg of the final against Man City, Steve Heighway sent on his little organiser to steady the ship. Jay was outstanding in those closing minutes against City, cajoling his team-mates and making sure they didn't lose their heads. A natural leader, the following season he was handed the armband for the u18s.


Despite his size, Jay was utilised at centre back in the youth cup to great effect in 2006-07. His reading of the game and strong tackling make him a tough opponent, and the only way anyone ever looked like getting the better of him is in aerial duels. He was an inspiration as the lads went on to retain the trophy, and his performance at Old Trafford in the 2nd leg prompted outgoing Academy director Steve Heighway to tell the Sky TV interviewer after the game that 'our captain could play in the first team right now. He's absolutely awesome'.


Despite his fantastic displays at the heart of the defence for the u18s, Jay was never going to make the grade in that position due to his lack of height. As the season progressed he began to force himself into the reserve team reckoning and put in a series of man of the match performances for Gary Ablett's side in the middle of midfield.


At the end of the season Jay was moved full time to Melwood and was named in the reserve squad that took part in an u20 tournament in Italy. They came up against the likes of Inter and AC Milan amongst others, and finished in third place in the competition after losing a semi final on penalties. Jay played in midfield, and was named the player of the tournament. A couple of months later he was lining up in midfield alongside Steven Gerrard in the pre-season friendly game at Crewe, and he acquitted himself very well to cap an amazing few months.


The following campaign saw Jay become an integral part of Ablett's reserve side as they swept all before them. He hit a number of spectacular goals from the middle of the park, and captained the side on occasion when regular skipper Stephen Darby was absent.


Along with Darby, 'Speo' was included in Rafa Benitez's squads for the pre-season friendlies in the summer of 2008. Both youngsters acquitted themselves superbly and did their chances of forcing their way into the senior set up no harm at all.


Despite their impressive showings in pre-season Darby and Spearing found opportunities to play for the first team almost impossible to come by in domestic football. Frustratingly, neither were included in the 18 man squad to face Crewe in the League Cup, but Darby did make a late substitute appearance in the next round as the Reds were humbled by Spurs. Spearing couldn't even get close though, but UEFA's home grown ruling meant that there was some hope he could feature in the Champions League.


With qualification already assured, Rafa Benitez included Spearing, Darby and fellow Academy graduate Martin Kelly on the bench against PSV Eindhoven, and all three came on in the second half and did well. It got even better for Jay in the knockout stages, as he came on for Steven Gerrard in front of a packed house at Anfield as the Reds battered Real Madrid. Spearing's performance that night made a lot of people sit up and take notice, but he had to wait several months for another opportunity with the senior side.


The departure of Xabi Alonso in the summer of 2009 and the injury problems of his replacement Alberto Aquilani meant that Jay was a regular in the 18 man matchday squad, but more often than not he was left kicking his heels on the subs bench.


He started in the League Cup at Leeds and Arsenal and performed well in both games, whilst he also made his first Premiership start in a game at Sunderland. It wasn't a good day for Spearing or any of his team-mates, as no-one performed well and the side were beaten by a freak goal that deflected in off a beach ball.


2010-11 would prove to be a breakout season for Jay as by the end of the season he had established himself as valuable first team squad member. Roy Hodgson gave him some opportunities early in the season, but an injury ruled him out for several weeks around the Christmas period. By the time Jay had regained his fitness, Hodgson was gone and Kenny Dalglish had taken over.


Dalglish showed the faith he had in 'Speo' by throwing him into a Merseyside derby game at Anfield, and that faith was rewarded with a good display from the tigerish midfielder. What was most impressive about his display was that he played with a broken bone in his foot, an injury he'd sustained in a reserve game a few days earlier.


That injury sidelined him for a few weeks after the derby, but once fit again Dalglish drafted him back into the side, and Spearing began to forge an impressive partnership with Lucas in the middle of the park as the reds went on a good run of form. A well deserved and belated call up to the England u21 squad arrived just before the end of the season, but a shocking challenge by Nigel Reo-Coker on the final day of the season saw Jay injured again and he had to pull out of Stuart Pearce's squad.


The King was clearly a big admirer of Spearing and the following campaign saw Jay play a lot of games. He even played at Wembley a couple of times. He was an unused sub in the League Cup success over Cardiff, whilst he started in both the FA Cup semi final win over Everton and also the final loss to Chelsea.


When Dalglish was replaced by Brendan Rodgers at the end of the 2011/12 season, that spelled bad news for Spearing. He took part in the pre-season games but with Joe Allen arriving for £15m and Real Madrid's Nuri Sahin joining on loan, opportunities to play were going to be limited and the lifelong Red joined Bolton on a season long loan.

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