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A number of Reds stars were called up for the tournament in Poland & Ukraine and gave new manager Brendan Rodgers plenty to think about ahead of his debut season

ANALYSIS
By David Lynch

Brendan Rodgers would perhaps have cursed his luck that his first pre-season at Liverpool was set to be disrupted by a major tournament.

However, given that his team were the fourth most represented side at Euro 2012 – trailing only Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Dynamo Kiev – the Northern Irishman had ample opportunity to assess his squad options in a competitive environment over the summer.

Six of the Liverpool's nine representatives were part of Roy Hodgson’s England squad, but without doubt the most prominent was newly-appointed national team captain Steven Gerrard.

Former Reds boss Kenny Dalglish endured poor luck with Gerrard last season, losing the talismanic midfielder for large periods through numerous niggling injuries, meaning questions were inevitably raised over his ability to play a big role under Rodgers.

However, given Hodgson’s penchant for employing 4-4-2 and his teams’ tendency to surrender possession, Gerrard’s fitness was given a thorough examination here. And it is one he passed with flying colours.

LIVERPOOL'S EURO 2012 STARS

DANIEL AGGER
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
270
ANDY CARROLL
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
158
STEWART DOWNING
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
0
N/A
STEVEN GERRARD
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
390
JORDAN HENDERSON
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
38
GLEN JOHNSON
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
390
MARTIN KELLY
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
0
N/A
PEPE REINA
MINUTES PLAYED
AVERAGE RATING
0
N/A
The Huyton-born star did not just provide the legs in a hard-working engine room, he also delivered the assists for three of his side’s goals during the tournament.

Meanwhile, the plaudits bestowed upon him for his leadership after finally being handed the Three Lions captaincy were something which Liverpool fans may wryly point out come as little surprise, but it was reassuring all the same.

At 32, Gerrard cannot be the cornerstone which so many former Liverpool managers have been blessed with, but his ability to still contribute when called upon more sparingly was clearly evidenced.

The only other Liverpool player to feature in every England game was right-back Glen Johnson, who silenced suggestions he was fortunate to be in the squad ahead of Micah Richards with four solid performances. Surely now the myth that the £18 million man cannot defend has been dispelled?

His trademark forays forward also provided rare inspiration in a team which too often played in straight lines as a result of their tactical set-up. Johnson is quite simply a ready-made Rodgers player, the type of upgrade on Swansea’s Angel Rangel which the 39-year-old will have traded clubs to work with.

A man whose England place had been equally scrutinised prior to the tournament, Andy Carroll, did his part in providing Rodgers with plenty of encouragement.

There is no getting away from the fact that the No.9 endured a difficult domestic season, scoring just nine goals in 47 appearances and looking worryingly cumbersome as fitness evaded him.

However, his mini renaissance toward the end of the campaign continued into Poland & Ukraine as he looked every inch the battering ram he is expected to become after scoring in his only start.

The former Newcastle man was in fact unfortunate that Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney’s impressive partnership at club level cost him his place in England’s final two games when he had perhaps deserved to remain. That is not something that will concern Liverpool, though. They know they are getting a leaner, more determined Carroll back, and one who looks ready to score goals.

Two of Liverpool’s three remaining England squad members, Stewart Downing and Martin Kelly, did not feature for a minute of the European campaign but they remain solid squad options which Rodgers will no doubt utilise. Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson took his role as scapegoat for Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry’s injuries on his already heavily-burdened 22-year-old shoulders as well as could be expected.

Henderson is young, technically proficient and physically capable but it feels like the key to transferring his form in training to the pitch on matchdays will be a mental battle that Hodgson and Rodgers will both have to fight.

Outside of the Three Lions camp, Daniel Agger and Denmark gave a respectable showing in the ‘Group of Death’; that the Dane has the footballing brain to succeed in Rodgers’ system has never been in doubt, and here he played three consecutive games which, given his troubled past with injuries, is surely a boost.

Finally, Pepe Reina was, as is customary, more prominent in Spain’s victory celebrations than actual games, but should be lauded simply for making a squad as vastly talented as Vicente del Bosque’s group.

So, despite none of his Liverpool squad playing a crucial role at the sharp end of the tournament, Euro 2012 provided plenty of positives for new Liverpool boss Rodgers. However, for Reds fans, the fact that Spain secured their third tournament win in a row adhering to the tiki-taka ethos which the 39-year-old hopes will be the hallmark of his revolution on Merseyside is perhaps the most encouraging point of all.

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