Liverpool v Sunderland: Steven Gerrard told to be 'more cautious' with midfielder one yellow card away from two-game ban
Gerrard will be forced to miss two-matches if he picks up another yellow card before April 13 due to the 10-booking suspension
Steven Gerrard has been warned by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers to be “more cautious” with his defence with the midfielder just one yellow card away from picking up a two-match ban that would impact Liverpool’s Premier League title charge.
The Reds captain has excelled in a deep midfield position after adapting to the new role, allowing Jordan Henderson to push higher up the field and turn in a string of impressive performances. However, his deployment in front of the back-four has also seen him pick up a number of yellow cards, receiving seven in his last 10 appearances and leaving him on a total for the season of nine.
Should he pick up another booking before April 13, Gerrard will have to sit out two of their remaining eight matches, beginning with the visit of Sunderland to Anfield on Wednesday. With further matches to come against Tottenham, West Ham and crucially Manchester City before the suspension cut-off date, Gerrard can ill-afford to pick up another caution, although Rodgers has stressed he has no plans to rest him until then.
“We just have to cope with (the situation),” Rodgers said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference. “I have spoken to him about it. It’s difficult and we just have to be that extra bit more careful. I think he has been very unlucky.
“His last two bookings, the one against Manchester United should never have been a booking.
“It was a great jumper, with so much power, to get over someone so big (Marouane Fellaini) to win a header.
“And he was then unfortunate at the weekend because he committed a foul but it should not have been a booking. We didn’t help him because we gave away the ball so cheaply.
“Stevie has been unfortunate picking up a few unnecessary bookings that were not through him. We are just going to have to tread carefully now. But it’s a role he can play and he will find a way of getting through, I’m sure.
“Will I rest him? No, because if he gets booked he will miss the two after that. He just has to be a wee bit more cautious but he is clever enough to get through that.”
Gerrard has featured in the deep-lying position since returning from injury in January, when his absence wasn’t heavily felt due to Henderson’s improvement as he moved further up the pitch. The England international will be facing the club he left three years ago to move to Merseyside, and he stressed that the Liverpool squad must remain focused with the job at hand when they take on a Sunderland side scrapping for Premier League survival.
“We have just got to concentrate on ourselves,” said Henderson. “Sunderland will make it difficult coming to Anfield. They got beat on Saturday but they are fighting for their lives and will make it very difficult for us.
“We have got to recover well from beating Cardiff and make sure we are back on it. We have got eight cup finals left. It doesn’t matter who it is, we have got to treat everyone the same. We did that against Cardiff and our quality came through in the end.”
One Liverpool player currently plying his trade for the Black Cats is striker Fabio Borini, and having impressed on Wearside this season, Rodgers confirmed there is a future for him back with the reds, having joined in July 2012. The Italian is ineligible to face his parent club, meaning that Gus Poyet will have to picked from an out-of-form Jozy Altidore, Steven Fletcher – who is struggling with an ankle injury – and Connor Wickham, who was recalled form a loan spell at Leeds on Monday.
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