Liverpool players have opportunity to step up with Steven Gerrard departing, says Brendan Rodgers ahead of Wimbledon FA Cup tie

The captain will move to the MLS in the summer

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The Independent Online

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has warned his players they have to start learning to live without Steven Gerrard.

The 34-year-old captain will depart in the summer to pursue a new challenge in Major League Soccer, leaving a huge void behind him.

On so many occasions already he has carried the team but Rodgers said it is time for other players to start realising the responsibility now lies with them.

"It has to come from within. I felt here in my time even when Steven was on the bench the team are looking for him to come into the game," said the Reds boss.

"This is an opportunity for the players from within to really go and step forward because come the end of the season he won't be here.

"If we are not signing that profile of player it has to come from within.

"We have players here who are very keen and hungry to progress as a player.

"I see the likes of even young Raheem Sterling showing leadership qualities coming through and over the years you will see him becoming that world-class talent who consistently performs.

"We have enough players in that changing room who will now step up and show that character which makes successful teams."

England midfielder Jordan Henderson was appointed vice-captain earlier in the season after Daniel Agger was sold.

Rodgers said he made that move specifically so Henderson could have time to observe Gerrard at close quarters.

"It was one of the reasons I made him vice-captain," he said.

"He has no greater captain to learn from and the idea of putting him in that role was for him to get in pole position to learn from a great how he behaves and works.

"So when that day came when Steven did move on, you had someone who can offer that wisdom and knowledge and that is something he has been doing."

 

The squad will lose one of their more experienced players next week as veteran defender Kolo Toure is expected to play his last game against AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup on Monday before heading off for his international swansong with Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup.

Toure is out of contract in the summer and as yet there has been no offer of a new deal and he admits leaving at such a crucial time in the season will not help him secure a new one.

"It is a tough situation for African players. There are clubs who don't want to take Africans because they have to go to the African Nations Cup," he said.

"For me I will go there, come back and fight again to show that I am still a top player.

"If I was going to stay (and not go to Africa) for sure I would maybe expect something (contract-wise) but I have try to adapt to the situation."

PA

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