Dirk Kuyt has vowed to continue scoring for Liverpool as Fernando Torres’ stand-in whenever he is needed.
The hard-working Dutchman scored twice to sink Wigan 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Anfield.
Torres was watching from the directors’ box as he nursed the hamstring injury that will keep him out of the club’s next two away matches, the Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid and next weekend’s clash at Chelsea.
A few weeks ago Kuyt was being reminded constantly that he had not scored in the league since last November and had managed only one this campaign.
Since then he has scored in three successive matches for the first time in his Liverpool career, including three crucial Premier League goals.
Being asked to step into Torres’ scoring boots has not bothered him one bit and there is every chance that Kuyt will be asked to lead the line in Madrid and at Stamford Bridge.
He said: “Fernando is very important for us and it was a big blow that he wasn’t on the pitch. But I tried to do my job when the boss put me up front, I just intended on scoring goals for the team.
“It does not concern me what position I play, I have enjoyed being played on the right, and I just want to be important for the team.
“I just hope Fernando is back quickly, but whenever the boss wants me up front, I will be ready.
“I do not think of where I play when Fernando is back. I feel I have been important on the right, scoring goals and with a few assists.
“The most joy for me is that we are winning more games and are at the top of the table.”
Kuyt’s double maintained Liverpool’s unbeaten home league record this year - indeed they have lost just two of their last 58 home Premier League games – and this is their best start to a league campaign for 18 years.
But they had to overcome a tremendous display from Wigan, with Egyptian striker Amr Zaki scoring twice in the first period, his second a memorable scissor-kick into the Kop end.
Kuyt’s first had kept Liverpool in the hunt, and only after Antonio Valencia’s two yellow cards reduced Wigan to 10 men, did Albert Riera equalise and Kuyt grab the winner.
Kuyt added: “I was delighted with my two. But for me the most important thing is that we win games. Even if we did make it hard for ourselves.
“We did struggle a bit, but Fernando was not playing and several players were not 100% fit.
“The most important thing after being away on international duty, is that you win your next club match because they are always more difficult.
“In these kind of games you have to show character. And that is the massive improvement from last season because in similar circumstances then we may have drawn or even lost this one.
“We took another step along the road, a test really. We won while not being at our best.”
Kuyt, 28, said: “We knew that Chelsea were a few goals up when we started, so we knew we had to win to stay top with them. But it is really more important to concentrate on ourselves and win our own games, regardless, and then we will see where we are.
“Chelsea winning so emphatically does not put more pressure on us. We know we have to win every game to keep in touch with them, Arsenal are there and Manchester United too.
“The most important thing is to look at ourselves and what we do. But we know we cannot allow anyone to get half a dozen points away from us.
“We saw that situation last season. We lost too many points at the beginning of the season and that cost us dearly in the end.
“Now you can see that we are collecting the points all the time, that is vital.”
Wigan boss Steve Bruce, who had never previously lost a league game to Rafael Benitez, was livid with referee Alan Wiley’s decision to send-off Valencia.
He said: “It was going to be difficult enough without the red card. Valencia was pivotal to what we were doing all game, it was a crying shame. We were the better team and deserved to be ahead.
“Zaki was tremendous, I know it is going to be a long, long winter for him, but let’s hope this form continues.
“He epitomises what we are all about. He is a breath of fresh air, all action, and we are delighted with him. His second was a wonder goal but to do that at Anfield is even more special.
“That’s the sad thing about it, you deserve something from the game and we were robbed. I can’t say what I really think or I will be in trouble again.
“Valencia has had a bad week, he had two yellow cards for Ecuador and was sent off there.
“We are fed up with pats on the back saying what a good team we have, now we need the points instead.”