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Gaffer has faith in inspirational skipper's quick healing abilities

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson is hoping that captain Steven Gerrard will return to action earlier than expected.

The skipper sustained an injury whilst on England international duty and was substituted after straining his groin during the 2-1 loss to France at Wembley.

The club had requested pre-match that Gerrard only be asked to play for 60 minutes of the match, yet England manager Fabio Capello decided to keep his vice-captain on the pitch after other players such as captain Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry picked up injuries just before the half-time break.

Liverpool appealed to the FA and are set to receive £500,000 in compensation for the injury.

However, Hodgson praised Gerrard’s efforts this season, which have seen the 30-year-old rescue his side from defeat or drive them to victory on numerous occasions.

“My hope is that because Steven is such a quick healer and is so desperate to get back quickly, it won't keep him out for as long as people are fearing. With injuries like this you can't take chances so it will be really important that the people who play in his place put in some excellent performances,” Hodgson told the club’s official website.

“He's been very good for us this year and was a big factor in the three straight wins that we had. It's a huge blow to be without him. That's in terms of his inspirational leadership, his energy, his enthusiasm and what he brings to the team in terms of technique.”

Vice-captain Jamie Carragher will lead Liverpool out at Anfield to face West Ham this weekend, when he will be making his 650th appearance for his club.

The manager was quick to praise the 32-year-old, claiming that Carragher does not receive anywhere near the credit he is due, probably because it is attackers and midfielders who generally attract the plaudits.

“I don't think he gets anything like the credit he deserves. A defender doesn't capture the headlines in the same way that forwards or attacking midfielders do,” said Hodgson.

“Jamie has been a superb servant for the club. From my point of view, in the five months I have been at the club I don't think I have seen him have a bad game for us. Furthermore, he's had to move between different positions across the backline, even playing at left-back.

It's great he's made 650 and I know he would be very happy to catch Cally's [Ian Callaghan] record [of 856 first team appearances] - but there's still a long way for him to go. With the Barclays Premier League being as intense as it is then he's going to have to keep himself very fit for the next few years."

The 63-year-old is hopeful that Carragher can lead the side out to victory, but urges the fans to get behind the squad.

“His major qualities are his ability and his understanding of the game. His desire to win is a very palpable one and it is obvious to everyone. Those types of players can help the team because they can drag other players up with them,” stated Hodgson.

“Steven is a quieter person but very inspirational with his play. Hopefully Jamie will fire people up out there, although the ones who can do that the most will be the 45,000 fans inside Anfield. When they get behind us like they did against Napoli, Blackburn and Chelsea then you really do feel that 12th man. But to get that 12th man you need to produce the goods on the field of play. If we can play well enough then they can make life very difficult for opponents.”

 

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