Inspirational Liverpool captain Steve Gerrard is nearing a return to action after a six-month layoff caused by a groin injury. His last appearance for the club was on March 6 against Manchester United. He had an operation in April, and then suffered a setback due to an infection in the preseason.
Gerrard is back at Melwood and has participated in full training for the last week. Initially, he penciled in Sunday's game at Tottenham as the date that he would make his return to the field, but it has come too soon for a player far short of match-fitness. A more realistic target is Wednesday's Carling Cup game against Brighton.
The bullish Gerrard vows to return to the form that saw him join the ranks of the "world-class" during his 13 years playing for Liverpool.
He told the Liverpool Echo, "My groin is as strong as it's ever been and the stats are there to prove it. Now it's just a case of getting match-fit and then hopefully my form will come back straight away.
"I'm excited about getting back out there," he added. "I know I'm going to come back fitter, stronger and hungrier than ever."
LFC boss Kenny Dalglish is undoubtedly eager for his captain to return to the field, but cautioned against rushing back his injured star.
"We'll pick and choose when is best for Steven," Dalglish told LiverpoolFC.TV. "We'll decide which game suits him best. We'll analyse his progress like we do with everybody. We'll do the same for Martin Kelly.
"Everybody that is asked to play will be fit enough to play. We'll just wait and see — there is no rush. We've just got to use common sense."
Gerrard's return will come just in time for Dalglish and Liverpool. Though he will not go straight into the starting lineup, the veteran midfilder will be able to work his way into match-fitness and gradually top form over the next two to four weeks.
If the reported timetable holds true, the midfielder should be ready to start by the Oct. 1 derby at Everton. Two weeks later (the second week of October is a FIFA international date), LFC host Manchester United. In their current form, Liverpool can match their eternal rivals on any given day, but a healthy Gerrard could propel them past the league champions.
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