Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he has "no concerns whatsoever" about Reds captain Steven Gerrard's performance level.
Gerrard, who retired from international duty over the summer after skippering England during their poor World Cup campaign in Brazil, struggled to make an impact in his club's 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat at West Ham on Saturday.
The 34-year-old midfielder has played every minute for Liverpool so far this season - in which they have lost three of their opening five league games - and since last weekend's match there have been questions over his ability to still handle the demands upon him.
But, asked at a press conference ahead of Tuesday's Capital One Cup third-round home clash with Middlesbrough whether he had any concerns about the standard of Gerrard's display against West Ham, Rodgers said: "No concerns whatsoever, no.
"He is a brilliant player for us, really talented.
"It was a team performance overall that just wasn't quite up to scratch."
He added: "I feel we have managed his recovery really well in the last two seasons.
"Even when Steven was playing international football, I think if you look at his numbers and games and minutes he has played, you'll see in the last couple of seasons that it is as good as it has been in his career.
"He is obviously at the age where we will look at him individually as a player.
"We want him to be involved in our big games because of his experiences and his talent, and we'll always taper that recovery for him to allow him to be at the very best he can be."
Rodgers currently has the likes of Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan, Emre Can, Joe Allen and Daniel Sturridge unavailable, doubts over Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho and Saturday's derby meeting with Everton to think about.
And he has indicated some young players may be brought into a changed match-day squad for visit of Championship outfit Boro.
But he neither confirmed nor denied whether Gerrard would be involved in the tie.
And regarding his team's disappointing start to the season, he said at the press conference on Monday: "We just need to get back to doing what we do best - our pressing and patterns of pressure.
"And, with the injured ones we have, I probably need to look at retaining a system for maybe a longer period.
"Also, our passing disappointed me at the weekend - we played arguably more long passes than West Ham, and that is something you, having watched us for two years, would never say.
"We just need to get back to that way of working which we know can bring us success."
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