As Anfield faces up to a critical pre-Christmas period without him, Steven Gerrard intervened to prevent the escalation of Liverpool's club-versus-country row with the FA.
His manager, Roy Hodgson, said Gerrard contacted him, asking him to play down the implications of a hamstring injury sustained late on during England's defeat by France at Wembley. Liverpool expected Gerrard to be used for only the first hour and the incident caused the club's fitness coach, Darren Burgess, to label the FA "amateurish and absolutely disgraceful" on his Twitter page.
"When I spoke to Steven this morning he was at pains to say to me: 'Don't prolong the debate, please say as little as you can and be as diplomatic as you can'," said Hodgson, who faces the dilemma of all Liverpool managers since Gerrard made his debut a dozen years ago – when to bring him back from injury.
"Steven is determined it won't be a month," he said. "He doesn't accept for one minute that this will take a month. But the one thing he doesn't want and I certainly don't want is for him to come back after two weeks, play 60 minutes and then the injury flares up again, perhaps even worse than before – because then we could be looking at a season in which Steven plays intermittently; two weeks on and four weeks off.
"When you get these scans you always get a figure thrown at you but it doesn't always work out like that. Joe Cole was supposed to be out for two weeks and now it's gone on to four. Glen Johnson was going to be 10 days and it's turned out to be three and a half weeks.
"I don't know if I am being diplomatic, I am simply refusing to prolong a debate. Our fitness coach, Darren, in his naivety and frustration, was foolish enough to voice an opinion on Twitter and that's led to these two days of vitriol. I think it's time we got it stopped."
Although the FA will pay his estimated £120,000-a-week wages while he is injured, the anxiety at Liverpool's training ground at Melwood is easy to understand. Of the two outstanding performances Liverpool have produced under Hodgson, the dismantling of Chelsea was the work of Fernando Torres, while the astonishing comeback to cut the ground from beneath Napoli's feet was classic Gerrard.
West Ham will not present the problems Stoke did last Saturday night; they are without Scott Parker, who is as precious to Avram Grant as Gerrard is to Hodgson, and the last West Ham captain to win at Anfield was Bobby Moore in 1963.
However, of the midfielders remaining to Hodgson, Cole and Lucas Leiva are unavailable through injury and suspension while he admits Christian Poulsen and Raul Meireles have yet to find their feet on Merseyside.
Hodgson has known Poulsen since their time at Copenhagen a decade ago but he accepts that he has struggled to find his rhythm. The victory over Napoli was probably the nadir; his substitution was greeted by an ovation from the Kop and then he had to watch as Gerrard turned the night on its head.
"In the first game [the 0-0 draw in Naples] he was outstanding and he did very well in Trabzon," Hodgson said. "But, of course, he has had two very unfortunate games at Anfield, where he's not played to his true ability, he has missed some passes and the crowd have jumped on to him. Christian is a strong person, though, very strong mentally so he is just going to have to get through that, although that won't happen overnight. Nothing I can say will change the fact that, if he misses the first two or three passes against West Ham, the crowd will get on to him again. That's what will happen. That's life, but he will deal with that."Reuse content