Club captain Steven Gerrard is likely to be unleashed in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa at Wembley...
Club captain Steven Gerrard is likely to be unleashed in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa at Wembley, manager Brendan Rodgers hinted on Friday.
Gerrard is leaving the club this year to join LA Galaxy in the United States and has made it his ambition to depart with another FA Cup winner’s medal to add to those he won with Liverpool in 2001 and 2006.
Sent off against Manchester United only 38 seconds after coming on as a substitute last month, he has now completed a three-match ban and Rodgers hinted that his qualities would be needed in the semi-final.
“He always produces big goals and big moments,” the manager told reporters.
“He knows Wembley very well. He’s got special quality.”
Liverpool’s preparations suffered a distraction this week with media reports about indiscipline by two of their young players, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe.
Both were pictured with a shisha pipe and England international Sterling was caught on video inhaling nitrous oxide — or “laughing gas” — from a balloon.
“Perspective is important. He didn’t do anything illegal,” Rodgers said. “For me it’s about the welfare and health issues.”
The two clubs are among the most successful in FA Cup history. This will be Liverpool’s 24th semi-final, Villa’s 21st and both have won the trophy seven times.
In their Premier League meetings this season each team won away from home. Villa contributed to Liverpool’s poor start with a 1-0 success at Anfield when Gabriel Agbonlahor, but Liverpool gained revenge at Villa Park in January, winning 2-0.
“At home against them we’ve been caught on the counter-attack,” Rodgers said. “Away from home it’s been totally different.”
Liverpool will have defender Martin Skrtel available but striker Daniel Sturridge may not be fit.