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The England international had missed four games with a hamstring problem, but returned to action in a half-hour cameo in the Reds' 2-0 victory over Hull City on Wednesday

Brendan Rodgers has welcomed the return to fitness of captain Steven Gerrard in Liverpool's pursuit of a top-four finish this season.

Gerrard came off the bench just after the hour mark to feature in the 2-0 home win over Hull City on Wednesday following three weeks out with a hamstring injury.

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In the absence of their talisman and skipper, Liverpool have endured mix fortunes, thrashing Tottenham 5-0 at White Hart Lane and beating Cardiff City, but back-to-back defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea saw Rodgers' men ousted from top spot in the Premier League.

Nevertheless, Liverpool remain firmly in the hunt to secure Champions League qualification and manager Rodgers is only too aware of the part midfielder Gerrard can play in achieving that goal.

"It's vitally important to have Steven back," Rodgers told the club's official website.

"His influence in the team is critical for us. He's worked tirelessly to get back having been out. We just wanted to get him some minutes on the pitch.

"He wasn't ready to start the game, but his influence back in the team gives us another player of real quality. Over the course of the next 10 days, he'll get right up to speed and it's great to have him back."

Gerrard has been in impressive form for the Anfield outfit this season, recording six assists and netting three goals in 16 appearances.

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