Gerrard relishing central role admits Capello

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The Independent Football

Fabio Capello is happy to see Steven Gerrard loving life back in central midfield.

The Liverpool skipper has in recent years been shunted around the field as a succession of managers sought to work around reservations about his defensive strength.

Former Reds boss Rafael Benitez employed Gerrard as a supporting striker to Fernando Torres, while Capello used the 30-year-old in a left-sided role to create an axis with Wayne Rooney.

The arrival of Roy Hodgson at Anfield has changed that thinking, however.

Capello has followed Hodgson's lead in handing Gerrard the job he prefers in the middle of the park, at the same time maintaining the link-up with Rooney by dropping the Manchester United man deeper.

"For a long time Steven Gerrard played for Liverpool like a second forward. This year he is playing like a midfielder," said Capello.

"He has started to play fantastic. He wins back the ball and then makes really important passes."

Gerrard's contribution to successive Euro 2012 qualifying victories that have yielded seven goals could be bad news for Frank Lampard, even though James Milner is suspended for next month's encounter with Montenegro at Wembley.

Given long-standing reservations about the ability of Gerrard and Lampard to operate side-by-side, Capello cannot accommodate the pair without making a significant tactical change elsewhere, which he is loathe to do.

No tactical changes are required in defence, just personnel issues as skipper Rio Ferdinand and John Terry are due to be available to challenge Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott for the starting berths they performed so well in during Tuesday night's 3-1 win over Switzerland in Basle.

"I have always said the door is open for all the players," stressed Capello.

"I have to decide who will come in. After that I will decide who is in the first XI.

"But these players did very well. They won two games and scored seven goals. Also, they created a lot of chances. This is a nice group."

As there is so much football to be played in the next month, Capello will not be spending much time worrying about his dilemma just yet.

Neither is there any need to discuss his future.

If results had gone badly this week, Capello's removal would have been on the agenda. Now it is the potential for remaining in post beyond the European Championship.

It seems both these scenarios are not going to unfold.

"My contract is no problem," he said.

When asked whether he would be leaving after Euro 2012, he added: "Absolutely, yes.

"We have to qualify first of course but after that I will be too old.

"I want to enjoy my life as a pensioner."