Kenny Dalglish insists he has not been surprised to see Jay Spearing dominating the midfield in Barclays Premier League fixtures over the last few weeks.
The 22-year-old has previous excelled on the Europa League stage and in domestic cup competitions, but Dalglish's arrival at the club has coincided with Spearing's conversion from fringe player to key member of the team.
And the gaffer told his pre-Birmingham press conference: "He's always been a good passer but maybe now he's got a bit more confidence and belief in himself, and he's encouraged more to do it.
"The games he's had and the performances he's put in, that will give him confidence. It has helped him.
"But he still does that (the snapping around people's ankles) and we wouldn't want to take that away from him.
"Jay's been fantastic in the games he's played for us, and that's a great lift for everyone at the club - to see someone like that coming through.
"Jonjo Shelvey was doing really well as well until he got injured, but now he's coming back in. Danny Wilson is the same and Martin Kelly too. They've all been really good for us this year.
"But Jay has been the one who's done as much as anyone."
Spearing did not start a league game under Roy Hodgson but has found himself in the XI in our last four domestic encounters in the absence of injured skipper Steven Gerrard.
Dalglish added: "Any team in the world would be a better team with Steven Gerrard playing in midfield and we're no different. You feel for players when they're injured but when they are injured someone else steps up to the plate. It's to their credit that they've all stepped up to the plate. Not just Jay, all of them.
"We've got a few injuries and it's how we react to that that's most important to us. And they've done fantastically well in adversity.
"When you consider what happened on Sunday: we start without our captain, we lose our captain, we lose Andy up front, we lose Fabio. Then we've got 17 and 18-year-olds at full-back against English, French and Russian internationals, and it didn't faze them. They got on with it, accepted their lot and did the club proud."