Gerrard pledges his future to Liverpool
It is turning into a good week for Roy Hodgson. The day after completing his first signing by bringing Joe Cole to Anfield, Liverpool's new manager was given the sizeable boost of Steven Gerrard, a key figure in persuading his World Cup colleague to head to the North-west, publicly declaring his desire to stay with the club.
The 30-year-old midfielder refused to talk about his future while he was at the World Cup in South Africa with England. But on his first day of pre-season training Gerrard was keen to stress how much he is anticipating the coming campaign and playing alongside Cole.
"I made it clear that I simply needed to concentrate on the World Cup and then have a decent holiday with my family," said the Liverpool captain, who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid. "I wanted the chance to meet Roy Hodgson privately and, having done so, I'm very impressed with his plans for the future."
For Hodgson, who has met Gerrard only briefly after taking over from Rafael Benitez on 1 July, that is exactly what he wanted to hear. "It's a great piece of news and, fingers crossed, the speculation about Steven will go away," Hodgson said. "The club has made no secret and I have made no secret that I came to work with people like Steven Gerrard. It seems now with that commitment that this will happen. It gives everyone a boost.
"It will be a tough season, with a lot of matches and the disappointment of last season is going to take a while to dissipate, but it is very good that our best player is still going to be playing at this club. Hopefully, with the signing of Joe Cole – and if we are lucky one or two others, to boost the squad – we will be going into this season's competition, maybe stronger on paper than we were last season."
Gerrard, and vice-captain Jamie Carragher, played an influential role in persuading Cole to choose Liverpool ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham while they were all together on England duty. "It is a great signing for us. I have seen first-hand just how good a player he is," said Gerrard.
Hodgson praised his two senior players for the work they had put in. "Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard did a good job in selling the club to Joe," he said. "He was undecided about what he wanted to do and, to be fair, it takes a bit more selling to persuade a Londoner who has played all his life in London to move up to Liverpool."
With Gerrard's public commitment, following so soon after Cole's signing, next on the list for Hodgson is to elicit a similar response from his striker Fernando Torres. "I met Torres last Wednesday in Ibiza, albeit briefly," said the manager. "He told me the groin problem was not anything to worry about, it was something which would clear up with rest on holiday. We are hoping he will come back fit and well."
Hodgson has not had such luck contacting midfielder Javier Mascherano, who is also on leave after the World Cup and has been linked with a move to Internazionale. "That's not important. What was important was for him to realise that I was looking forward to seeing him."
Hodgson concluded one piece of transfer business yesterday with the signing of 18-year-old centre-half Danny Wilson from Rangers for an initial £2m, possibly rising to £5m. Wilson made his Rangers debut only in October 2009 but was voted Young Player of the Year in Scotland at the end of last season. He turned down the offer of a new contract at Ibrox in the spring.
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