Gerrard can win 100 caps, says Dalglish
Midfielder backed to stay committed to England despite disappointment of not being made captain
Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, has held out the prospect of Steven Gerrard winning 100 caps for England, despite the disappointment of Scott Parker taking the captain's role against the Netherlands instead of Gerrard.
Dalglish's relationship with Stuart Pearce appears to have contributed to a more relaxed outlook on the decision to start with Gerrard against the Netherlands at Wembley on Wednesday night – only for the midfielder to leave the field after 33 minutes with a tight hamstring which may keep him out of Liverpool's side for the vital home match with Arsenal tomorrow lunchtime. Dalglish declared that he trusted the judgment of Pearce – a stark contrast to the fury felt at Melwood in November 2010 when Fabio Capello reneged on an agreement to limit Gerrard's time on the pitch to an hour and he pulled a hamstring against France.
Gerrard's struggles with injury have seen him drop off the international map in the last 18 months. Before Wednesday, he had not appeared since the Wembley defeat to France. But Dalglish does not seem to think that the 31-year-old's international career is anywhere near its conclusion after 90 starts. "He obviously must enjoy representing his country if he's done it 90 times," Dalglish said. "I was a bit older than Steven when I retired from international duty and we never played as many matches. Mind you, we did qualify for four straight World Cups. I only went to three. But to get 100 caps for your country is a proud achievement. To represent the football club you have supported all your life is an equally proud achievement as well.
"If he's got a decision to make he's got a decision to make but I couldn't say one way or the other. It's up to the individual. They've also got the European Championships coming up this summer and that is an attraction as well."
Asked about Pearce's decision not to make Gerrard captain, Dalglish said: "If I was in charge of the team Steven would have been playing for me as well. It is no surprise for me that anyone picks Steven Gerrard for their team. England is not my team. If I am the manager of any team in the world I am going to select Steven Gerrard for it."
Though Pearce said he had planned to limit Gerrard's work to 45 minutes, Dalglish said there had been no prior agreement between club and country. "It is common sense that England would look after him having played extra time, penalties and with the emotion of the occasion [ in the Carling Cup final on Sunday]. They had him for three days there and it was their shout. It was just a case of 'look after him', as I'm sure they do all their international players. Don't forget if they come back injured [the Football Association] have to pay their wages."
Gerrard's injury against France prompted an instant and angry response from then manager Roy Hodgson's coaching department, one of whom tweeted: "Completely ignored agreement and past history. Completely amateurish and now we pay for their incompetence. Absolutely disgraceful."
The former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler is on the brink of completing an unexpected return to English football by signing for Blackpool until the end of the season. Fowler, 36, has not played competitively in England since his three appearances for Blackburn Rovers in the 2008-09 season. He trained with the Blackpool squad yesterday after being handed the opportunity to resurrect his career by manager Ian Holloway. Blackpool were unable to register Fowler in time for him to be available for tonight's game against Hull City at Bloomfield Road.
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