Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said that stories surrounding Steven Gerrard have been 'unfair' and insists he has a big part to play for the side between now and the end of the season when he departs to play for MLS side LA Galaxy.
Gerrard returned from injury as a second half substitute in the 1-0 win over Swansea City, and the pairing of Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson in central midfield has impressed in his absence.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday's game against Manchester United, the Reds boss said: "It's simple. It's been unfair on the boy. This is a guy who has been, and still is, a wonderful player. But when he was out injured, we had people trying to sensationalise the story. People were trying to write him off when he was injured.
"He's back now, and it's maybe not the story you want, but he's totally committed. He's a fan of this club, and his support for guys like Henderson, Allen, has been fantastic. He's a selfless guy who puts the team first. He will have a big part to play in our season."
Rodgers was also asked about the contract situation of Raheem Sterling and said there will be no more talks until the summer so the 20-year-old can concentrate on his football.
On the fitness side of things, Rodgers said Mario Balotelli is back in the squad after missing the win over Swansea City through illness, and says Lucas Leiva will be assessed ahead of Sunday's game after returning to training following a month out with a groin injury.
Liverpool are currently two points behind Manchester United, so a victory will take them ahead of Louis van Gaal's side, and the Liverpool manager is wary of the threat the Dutchman and his players carry going into Sunday's game, but remains confident in his own side's ability.
He added: "They've got a lot of talent, and had a big investment in the summer in world class players. They've been up there all season, and they will want to stay up there. I don't worry about them clicking. They had a good result v Spurs, but Anfield is a different game."
Rodgers admitted that a win for either side would be huge psychologically but said it wouldn't be the overriding factor as to which team finishes above the other.