Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has hit back at recent criticism of club captain Steven Gerrard.

The midfielder has taken the brunt of the blame for the Reds’ recent poor Premier League performances, with some suggesting that the 32-year-old is past his best.

Rodgers has leapt to the defence of his skipper, who has scored two goals so far this term:

“He’s carried this club for nearly 13 years, and it’s about time there was more than Steven picking up the baton of responsibility for Liverpool, ” he is quoted by SkySports.

“I don’t want to focus too much on him, other than that he’s been brilliant since I arrived here. His inspiration and leadership within the team has been phenomenal.

“He might not have got the goals he would have wanted this season, but you can see how effective he’s been and the quality of his game.

“Against Spurs, his range of passing, his commitment and his drive into the box was superb.”

He also confirmed that Lucas Leiva may return to the squad for this weekend’s clash with Southampton:

“Lucas Leiva will return to the squad, which is great news because he’s been working very, very hard and played the reserve game last week.

“He’s been training for a few weeks and looked very good, so we’ll look forward to bringing him back in.”

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