Roy Hodgson’s raving over Steven Gerrard vow
Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson hopes speculation about the future of Steven Gerrard will come to an end now the captain has publicly declared his commitment to his boyhood club.
The 30-year-old midfielder refused to talk about his future while he was at the World Cup in South Africa with England.
But, yesterday, on his first day of pre-season training Gerrard was keen to stress how much he is anticipating the coming campaign and playing alongside international team-mate and new signing Joe Cole.
"I made it clear that I simply needed to concentrate on the World Cup and then have a decent holiday with my family," he said.
"I wanted the chance to meet Roy Hodgson privately and having done so, I'm very impressed with his plans for the future.
"I've only returned to training (yesterday) with some of the other World Cup players, but I can't wait for the new season to start.
"I know Joe well through the England set-up so it will be fantastic to play alongside him in a red shirt for Liverpool."
And for Hodgson, who has met Gerrard briefly after taking over from Rafael Benitez on July 1, that is exactly what he wanted to hear.
"It's a great piece of news and fingers-crossed the speculation about Steven will go away," said the 62-year-old Englishman.
"The club has made no secret and I have made no secret that I came to work with people like Steven Gerrard, not to see him disappear before I get chance to work with him.
"It seems now with that commitment that this will happen. It gives everyone a boost without question. I'm really pleased about it because I've got great respect for Steven Gerrard.
"It will be a tough season and the disappointment of last season is going to take a while to dissipate, but it is very good that our best player is still going to be playing at this club.
"Hopefully with the signing of Joe Cole — and if we are lucky one or two others — we will be going into this season's competition, maybe stronger on paper than we were last season."
Gerrard, and vice-captain Jamie Carragher, played an influential role in persuading Cole to choose Liverpool ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham while they were all together on England duty.
"It is a great signing for us. I have seen first-hand just how good a player he is," said Gerrard. "I told him what a great club this is and I'm sure Joe's the sort of exciting talent our fans will love to see."
Hodgson praised his two local heroes for the work they had put in, in securing Cole.
"Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard did a good job in selling the club to Joe at the recent World Cup," said the Reds boss.
"He was undecided about what he wanted to do and to be fair it takes a bit more selling to persuade a Londoner who has played all his life in London to move up to Liverpool."
With Gerrard's public commitment, following so soon after
Cole's signing, next on the list of things to get done for Hodgson is to elicit a similar response from Fernando Torres.
The striker is on holiday nursing an adductor injury sustained in the World Cup final but Hodgson has already spoken to him.
"I met Torres last Wednesday in Ibiza, albeit briefly," said Hodgson. "He told me the groin problem was not anything to worry about, it was something which would clear up with rest on holiday.”
Hodgson has not had such luck contacting midfielder Javier Mascherano and while he tried to play down the significance of that, a touted reunion with Benitez at Inter Milan may provide an ulterior motive for not returning calls.
"It's been exaggerated. I left him a message saying I did not expect him to call me back," he said "All I wanted to do was contact him. But that's not important. What was important was for him to realise that I was looking forward to seeing him.
"The speculation about him leaving continues but, as yet, it is just that."