sport

Rodgers: Gerrard is phenomenal

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has leapt to the defence of skipper Steven Gerrard, saying his "leadership has been phenomenal".

The England midfielder has taken the brunt of the criticism for his side's indifferent performances this season, collecting just 16 points from 14 Premier League matches.

Gerrard has scored only once in the league this term, but Rodgers insists he is still a great leader out on the pitch.

"He has carried this club for nearly 13 years, and it's about time there was more than Steven picking up the baton of responsibility for Liverpool," Rodgers said.

"I don't want to focus too much on him, other than that he's been brilliant since I arrived here. His inspiration and leadership within the team has been phenomenal.

"He might not have got the goals he would have wanted this season, but you can see how effective he's been and the quality of his game.

"Against Spurs, his range of passing, his commitment and his drive into the box was superb."

Rodgers also confirmed that Lucas Leiva and Joe Cole could return to the squad for this weekend's clash with fellow strugglers Southampton at Anfield.

"Joe Cole will come back into contention. He had a scan on an injury but that showed up fine, so he should be available again at the weekend," he added.

"Lucas Leiva will return to the squad, which is great news because he's been working very, very hard and played the reserve game last week. He's been training for a few weeks and looked very good, so we'll look forward to bringing him back in."