Big welcome sight for all Liverpool fans last night against Brighton in the Carling Cup was the appearance of Steven Gerrard for the last 15 minutes. The Liverpool skipper has endured the longest lay-off of his career, stretching six months and covering 17 matches, after surgery on a niggling groin problem that had previously restricted him to just 482 minutes under Dalglish.
Gerrard instantly grasped the captain’s armband from Jamie Carragher, and his reappearance, and the win, will help rebuild confidence shaken by successive defeats at Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur.
The big question is how will a healthy Gerrard effect the shape of the Liverpool side? Liverpool’s best two outside players this season have been Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing. These two would be close to automatic in my line-up every week.
That means that the middle of midfield is where it gets tricky with two of Lucas, Henderson, Adam and Gerrard to pick from.
Since Lucas is the club’s only recognised holding midfielder, it would be a major surprise if he did not get one of the two central midfield positions.
Charlie Adam has made a good start to his Liverpool career and his passing ability from the middle and vision to spot the darting runs of Downing and Suarez have added an extra dimension to Liverpool’s attacking play.
Henderson offers versatility, dynamism and vision, but, I don’t think he is ready to claim a regular place in the Liverpool line-up due to his lack of positional discipline and inexperience.
So it comes to Adam and Gerrard for that central midfield spot. Unless Dalglish decided to play Gerrard as a second-striker, particularly in the hole behind Suarez, just like he did when Torres was here. Of course, if Gerrard plays as a second-striker that means Carroll will be on the bench.
I don’t think that Carroll is fully fit, so having him come off the bench at the moment is not a bad thing.
Where do you think Gerrard will play in the Liverpool line-up?