Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has hit back at critics who have targeted Jamie Carragher.
The Reds have made a stuttering start to the new Premier League season, losing 2-1 to Tottenham on the opening weekend and later slipping up at home to Aston Villa.
They have conceded seven goals in five games but Benitez believes it is unfair for the defenders to be blamed for poor performances.
Carragher has been singled out by some pundits who have suggested the 31-year-old no longer has the pace and fitness to perform as consistently as he has in the past.
However, Benitez has no such doubts and maintains that Carragher will continue to play a key role this term.
"When the team hasn't done well it is the defenders who take the rap," Benitez said in the Daily Star Sunday.
"When you are losing, they will get criticised more than the strikers.
"Jamie is still a top player. He's training as always. He's fit and quick and he will always be the same.
"He's a professional who has taken care of himself, so I don't see him slowing down quickly."
FocusBenitez accepts that Carragher has perhaps had to shoulder too much of the responsibility in terms of making the team a cohesive unit and he has called on other players to do more.
"It depends now on the team. If they help the defenders it will be easy for the defenders to play well," he explained.
"It's more difficult for Carragher because he's been playing with a lot of team-mates.
"He likes to talk but the other players around him are important too. If he doesn't need to be talking much it's easier for him to focus on his own game."