Steven GerrardBrendan Rodgers picks Steven Gerrard in order to win games, not popularity contests.

Rodgers spoke about Gerrard on Tuesday at his press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League game against Ludorets, telling reporters that he selects his star midfielder based on how he performs in practice, not because of his status as club captain and Anfield icon.

“For me, it is simple,” Rodgers said, according to LiverpoolFC.com. “I judge Steven on merit.

“He is a wonderful, wonderful player. I can quite safely say he is the best player I have ever worked with in terms of footballing mentality.

“There is nothing sentimental about me picking Steven Gerrard. I see Steven every day of my life. He is like clockwork, he is in every day between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., preparing for his training session and how he works and operates.

“What he does on the training field, I judge him on that. I see the influence he has on other players. Of course, he is coming toward the latter part of his career, but he still has a really valuable contribution for me.

Gerrard has played in 16 of Liverpool’s 18 games this season, going the full 90 minutes in all but one of them.

Rodgers said Gerrard, 34, makes the task of managing his workload an easy one.

“Steven will be the first one to say that he can play three games a week, but he won’t be able to play it to the level he would like and that I would like,” Rodgers said. “That’s something that is my job to manage, along with him. We speak a lot in terms of the games, and it’s fairly easy to manage because he is such a top-class professional player and always accepts what is best for the team and what is best for Liverpool.

Gerrard’s contract expires next summer, and it remains to be seen how long he will continue as Liverpool’s field general. However, the respect Gerrard commands at Liverpool undoubtedly will endure into the future.

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Photo by Matt Dunham/The Associated Press