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The Reds manager insists that the 33-year-old remains crucial to his plans and expects him to be fit for the start of the season despite needing surgery at the end of 2012-13

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists that Steven Gerrard will remain "integral" to his plans for years to come.

The Reds captain missed the final two games of the 2012-13 season through injury but was back in training with his team-mates on the first day of pre-season and is set to continue a key role in the campaign to come.

"He's 33 now but Steven is still an integral part of what I'm trying to do here and will be for the next few years," Rodgers told reporters.

"He had his operation towards the end of the season and the plan was for him to continue his rehab over the off-season."

The injury that prevented Gerrard from appearing in the final games of the season resulted in surgery, prompting fears that the midfielder might miss the start of this season, but Rodgers is confident that his talisman will be ready.

"It's a big credit to him - he's worked tirelessly over the summer," the 40-year-old enthused. "He won't be too far away. He looks great and is in great condition."

Gerrard, a product of the Liverpool youth academy, has made over 400 appearances for the club.

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