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Premier League

Gerrard returns after hamstring injury

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will return to action against Blackpool on Boxing Day after manager Roy Hodgson confirmed he is now fit.

The 30-year-old midfielder has been out since tearing a hamstring in England's friendly against France on November 17.

He would have played against Fulham at the weekend had the fixture not been postponed because of heavy snow on Merseyside.

Hodgson has received a second boost after defender Daniel Agger was deemed to have recovered from a complex calf problem which has sidelined him for the Reds since September 25.

"It is a big boost to have Gerrard back going into five games in 15 days," said the manager.

"It is a season-changing period for every team in the Premier League.

"He would have been fit to play against Fulham as well. It doesn't hurt to have an extra week to get some training in but what he needs now is matches.

"Unfortunately the chance to play a match was missed when our game against Fulham fell victim to the weather.

"Daniel Agger is also fit so there are only two players unavailable to me, one of whom is Jay Spearing who suffered a break to his ankle and is a month away.

"Jamie Carragher (dislocated shoulder) is still nine weeks away from coming back, if we are to believe the doctors, but knowing Jamie it would not surprise me if those nine weeks became less than that."

Hodgson also played down speculation he was looking to offload forward Milan Jovanovic, who only joined the club on a free transfer from Standard Liege in the summer.

"Jovanovic, as far as I am concerned, is a Liverpool player and will be until such time as he decides to leave or someone comes in and makes us an offer we can't refuse," added the 63-year-old.