Gerrard ‘not automatic choice’

Gerrard has missed the last six matches with a hamstring injury and, while he has returned to training this week, he will be assessed before a decision can be made on whether he is fit to face Blackburn in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final.

Gerrard has just three months left at Anfield before moving to Los Angeles Galaxy. His time on the bench could be prolonged given that his absence has coincided with the team’s best run of form all season – they are unbeaten in the league since the turn of the year.

In his absence the Reds have won five times, with their only defeat coming to Besiktas in the Europa League, and while Jordan Henderson has successfully led the side Rodgers insists the 24-year-old is not a like-for-like replacement for Gerrard.

“There is no-one in the squad who has a God-given right to walk straight into the team,” Rodgers said.

“It probably would be (an issue) for other people but certainly not for me and it wouldn’t be for Steven.

“He is very much a team player and if he was on the bench because the team was in good form and playing well I think everyone respects that.

“I have shown my time here players who are performing well, irrespective of price or status, they play – simple as that.

“He is not fit yet so we just need to get him back and then if that (him sitting on the bench for the final three months of his Liverpool career) was the case you would have to ask Steven (how he feels).

“Let’s see how the season pans out and then review it then.”

Henderson has assumed captaincy responsibilities in the interim period and his form has seen a marked upturn, with goals in his last two matches.

After he rifled one home against Burnley in midweek comparisons were made to Gerrard but Rodgers said that was wrong.

“Jordan is totally different. Steven is one of the best players of all time in the Premier League and I have said before there is no comparison,” he said.

“Jordan is a young guy who is a wonderful talent but a different type of player. Steven is one of the greats of the game, with all respect.

“Someone said he would be irreplaceable but we will find different ways and different types of players but I think you should stop trying to put pressure on a young player like Jordan Henderson.

“He is vice-captain and has a wonderful role model in Steven but I would ask every young player to follow Steven Gerard by example because he is an incredible professional and football player.

“He assists goals, he scores goals, and for me he is just improving every??single day. His tactical understanding of systems is developing and he will go??on over the next few years.”

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