Brendan Rodgers says Liverpool have not shackled Steven Gerrard

Brendan Rodgers has denied altering Steven Gerrard's role at Liverpool but admitted the midfielder has had to accept even greater responsibility at Anfield this season.

The Liverpool and England captain has operated in a deeper position and scored only twice in all competitions, his last goal coming against Manchester United in September. Rodgers insists he has not told the 32-year-old to curb his attacking instincts in the absence of Lucas Leiva, who will be available for Saturday's home game against Southampton following his recovery from a torn thigh muscle, and believes the only change in Gerrard's game is the burden of leading a young Liverpool team.

"I don't think there has been a clear change in his game in terms of what I have asked him to do," the Liverpool manager said. "Steven has always been the player who makes the difference over the years and, OK, he may not have had the goals this season that he has wanted but he has still been effective. There has been nothing more or less I have asked in terms of defensive responsibilities.

"He has had to take on more of a mantel because it is a much younger group. In the past he has played in teams with more experience around him and I think that is the biggest change this year. There is more responsibility on him to look out for the team because of the youthfulness of the team and he has been brilliant. He is a phenomenal player and a great presence for us."

The Liverpool manager insists only fine margins have prevented Gerrard adding to his goal tally and the team from being higher up the table. "Look at the very end of the game against Swansea on Sunday," he said. "The ball comes into the box right at the death and if Daniel Agger heads it back Steven Gerrard is in the box to finish. A lot of that goes unnoticed because he's not getting that final chance to score.

"In the meantime Steven and the other players are showing a good level of consistency. We just need that wee fraction of good fortune. We could have had another two points from the Everton game and the Swansea game. That's another four points and we are right there up and about it."

Liverpool travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday unbeaten in eight league games and with Martin Skrtel desperate for a change in fortunes at White Hart Lane. The defender explained: "I don't want to repeat what happened last season because it was horrible. I didn't play in my own position and I ended up getting sent off. The year before I broke my jaw after banging heads with Carra [Jamie Carragher] but that is football and I have to forget about these things and look forward."

The Spurs midfielder Sandro has been passed fit despite being carried off on a stretcher with a stomach injury against West Ham United. Moussa Dembélé may start his first game in over a month after overcoming a hip problem but Emmanuel Adebayor is suspended.

Powered by article was written by Andy Hunter, for The Guardian on Tuesday 27th November 2012 22.52 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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