Dalglish welcomes return of Gerrard

 

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish believes Steven Gerrard is fitter than he has been for some time and is keen to get his captain back up to speed as quickly as possible.

The England midfielder made his first appearance since October as a second-half substitute in the frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Blackburn yesterday.

Gerrard, who had groin surgery in March which prematurely ended his campaign last season, almost had the perfect comeback as he arrived on the pitch to take a free-kick from which his side almost went in front, but Dalglish knows the player needs more time to regain top form.

"It is fantastic that he has got back and he looks a lot stronger now and is a lot fitter now than he was in years gone by," said the Scot.

"But obviously he needs time on the pitch and we have to try to accommodate that.

"With his first touch he created a chance for Maxi Rodriguez with a header and he knocked it wide - that would have been a fantastic start.

"It is great to see him back fit and well and available for consideration again."

Having fallen behind to Charlie Adam's own goal on the stroke of half-time Liverpool had only Rodriguez's close-range header to show for dominating the entire game without causing too many problems for goalkeeper Mark Bunn, deputising for the injured Paul Robinson.

The closest the Reds came to winning it came in the final 30 seconds as Andy Carroll, on his first start in four matches, was denied by Bunn's brilliant save while Daniel Agger had a header cleared off the line with the final kick of the match from 17-year-old Adam Henley on his first senior start.

Dalglish has had to repeat himself on many occasions this season - this was Liverpool's sixth home draw in nine outings in which they have been the better side - and he found himself doing so again.

"We will continue getting in there and making chances and play the way we are playing," he added.

"Most of the things we do well and do right and if we get a bit of luck and a bit more belief in ourselves - with the goalkeeper coming and having a nightmare - that would be helpful to us."

Under-pressure Blackburn manager Steve Kean left Anfield delighted with a point, even if his side remain bottom of the table.

"I enjoyed it. We were disappointed in the way we started the second half but in the first half we got our defensive organisation sorted," he said.

"We have worked on that to try to establish a platform and work on counter-attacks.

"I said to them (before the game): 'Don't leave any regrets in the dressing room'.

"Full credit to the lads, we dug in and managed to get something from the game."

PA

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