Belfast Telegraph

Gerrard happy to be back on pitch

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admits he has returned to action with a renewed appreciation for the game with which he has had a love affair his whole life.

Six months on the sidelines after a groin operation in March gave the England international plenty of thinking time. The 31-year-old readily accepts it was not the easiest time for him as, as his famed exploits in a red shirt have shown, he is a doer and not a watcher.

"I didn't realise what I had until it was taken away from me for so long," said Gerrard. "So I am delighted to be back and be able to experience the emotion of big games again."

After three substitute appearances totalling just under an hour, he made the most of his first start since his surgery with a goal in Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United.

A man-of-the-match performance would have been capped had his 68th-minute free-kick through the gap in the wall, kindly provided by Ryan Giggs, proved to be the winner.

However, Javier Hernandez - surprisingly left on the bench along with Wayne Rooney - denied Gerrard a triumphant return to his rightful place at the heart of the side with a close-range header nine minutes from time, but nevertheless, the Huyton-born midfielder was glad to be back in his natural home.

He added: "It has been a frustrating six months watching the lads from the stands and I much prefer to be out there having an impact on the game. It would have been the perfect day if my goal had been the winner but it wasn't to be."

Kenny Dalglish admitted his players were disappointed not to have extended their winning run over their arch-rivals at Anfield to four games, and Gerrard agreed.

"I don't know whether frustration is the right word but the lads were a little bit disappointed that we didn't hang on after we took the lead," said the England midfielder. "With the chances we created over 90 minutes I think we deserved to just sneak the three points. I was really pleased with the lads, how they played.

"Both sides showed each other too much respect in the first half and that was maybe why it was a bit flat. But in the second half we came out really positive and we kept pushing for that winner."

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