As Steven Gerrard returns to the Liverpool squad for the first time in seven matches, manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed he doesn’t plan to put the club captain straight back into the side. With his summer move to Los Angeles edging closer, will he get the Hollywood ending to his Liverpool career, or will he just be slowly put out to American pasture?
In the games since Gerrard’s injury, The Reds have arguably enjoyed their most consistent spell of the season, only Besiktas have defeated them since he has been unavailable.
Henderson has thrived in Gerrard’s absence, beginning to perform a role similar to his captain in his prime. He has made a serious case for taking the armband on a full time basis and has drove Liverpool right back into the top four race.
Next to Henderson, Joe Allen has enjoyed potentially his best spell at the club; a consistent run of games has allowed him to finally establish himself at Anfield. He is finally beginning to replicate the kind of performances that led Rodgers to buying the Welshman in the first place.
In front of these two Coutinho and Lallana are flourishing in forward areas, offering the kind of dynamism and technique that they have been missing at so may points in this rollercoaster season.
So with a maximum of 13 games left in Gerrard’s legendary Liverpool career, how will he be used in a way to give him the farewell he deserves from his adoring Kop?
The fact that the FA Cup final falls on his birthday, has been widely publicised since he made his announcement. It seems the perfect way to end his era at Anfield. Expect him to start in all of their remaining cup games, with only a small chance of a League trophy, it represents his best chance to lift more silverware.
Even the most cynical of football fans would struggle to begrudge Gerrard walking up the steps at Wembley in his final game at a club that has meant so much to him over the past 20 years.
In terms of his league inclusions, expect him to be used wisely, whether that is in rotation as the fixtures pile up, or a cool head to keep the ball when his side are winning.
His third from last league game will be away to Chelsea, a game he will be desperate to have a positive influence upon after last year’s infamous ‘slip up.’
Expect guards of honour and tears in both his last home game and last league game, as English football waves goodbye to one of its true greats.
This season will not give him the trophy he has always craved so dearly, the Premier League will evade him as a player. Potentially the best player to never receive a winning medal.
But his Hollywood ending may prove to be in a fixture where he has already had a summer blockbuster. The FA Cup Final, quite frankly he deserves one more hit.