Gerrard still ‘vitally important’ for Liverpool, says Clarke
Liverpool first-team coach believes Steven Gerrard's return from injury will be a welcome lift next season
Steven Gerrard’s return to full fitness will be major boost for Liverpool next season, according to first-team coach Steve Clarke.
The Reds enjoyed a remarkable turnaround in 2011 after Kenny Dalglish and Clarke arrived at Anfield, but the Merseysiders were forced to do without their captain, whose injury woes limited him to just six starts, for large portions of the campaign.
The 31-year-old midfielder, who last featured in the club’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United on 6 March, underwent a second operation to fix a groin problem in April and subsequently missed the remainder of the season.
“He’s vitally important,” Clarke told Liverpool’s website. “Steven hasn’t featured much since I came to the club and he’s been in and out with a niggling problem with his groin, and hopefully the operation has cured it.
“A fit and fully firing Steven Gerrard can only improve the squad. He’s certainly one of the most complete footballers of his generation.
“Over the last 10 or 12 years there have been a number of really top English players and certainly Steven is one of them.
“I’ve only seen little glimpses of him since I came here but he’s a captain who, rather than speaking and motivating, leads by example on the pitch. I am looking forward to seeing him do that next season.”
Clarke added: “I’m sure he’ll work hard during the summer, and if he can join us in the first stage of pre-season then that would be great. If not then he’ll join us a little bit later.”
The Liverpool skipper racked up just 21 Premier League appearances last season – his lowest tally since his breakthrough campaign in 1998-99.