Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has warned his players that they must step up in the absence of influential skipper Steven Gerrard.
The 34-year-old midfielder entered his 16th successive campaign with the Reds this season and his influence over the years has become renowned in world football.
Last season, after Lucas Leiva sustained an injury layoff, Gerrard dropped deeper and performed as a deep-lying playmaker who shared defensive responsibilities.
His contribution to the side was evident, but as age catches up on him this season boss Rodgers has been forced to change the shape of the side and rest his talisman in recent weeks.
During yesterday’s 0-0 stalemate at home to Sunderland, the Merseysiders’ skipper spent the first 73 minutes on the substitutes’ bench and in his absence the lack of leadership and intensity was obvious.
It is a weakness which needs addressing and as Gerrard’s appearances wane, boss Rodgers warns his players that they need to be ready to step up to the challenge.
“We can't always rely on Stevie. His talent is world-class but that contribution has to come around the team," he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. "It can't be up to him every single game to be the catalyst.
“It is very hard to replace that quality but going forward that is something of course we will need. He was excellent when he came on and of course he plays on Tuesday.
“He still has that talent, he has world-class ability and it is me looking to manage that. We have a big month. Until the New Year there are big games and the management of Steven is fine, there is no problem with that.”
The draw with Sunderland leaves the Anfield outfit in ninth place, four points behind rivals Manchester United who currently occupy the last Champions League spot.