By Rob Stewart
Former Liverpool defender John Scales is certain that Steven Gerrard will be able to “hit the ground running” if he enters the fray when the Reds face Newcastle United in the Premier League at Anfield on Friday night.
Scales is confident that although the Liverpool skipper has not started a match for the Merseyside club since late October, he can still make an immediate impact for Kenny Dalglish’s team from the off against Newcastle.
“Steven is one of those few players that can hit the ground running when they come back into the team after injury,” Scales told Goal.com.
“He is a class act and as a captain he has the leadership qualities as well as the ability to lifts his team-mates as well as the Liverpool fans because he is such a valuable player for the team.
“Steven doesn’t need to be eased back into the team because he is such a committed and determined player and is rightly known as Liverpool’s talisman because he can influence a game like few others.”
With Luis Suarez suspended, Liverpool could do with Gerrard – who returned to action as a substitute against Blackburn on Boxing Day – to excel against Newcastle to end a patchy year on a high, but Scales is certain that no risks will be taken with the 31-year-old England international.
“It will be interesting to see if he is played by Kenny in a withdrawn role or a more advanced role behind a lone striker,, but he can be very effective in both positions and that is what makes him so important,” added Scales.
“But what is certain is that Kenny will not gamble on his fitness. If he does not feel 100 per cent happy that Steven is right then he won’t put him in the team and he will be given all the time he needs to get back to peak fitness.
“In fact I don’t think that Kenny would do that with any of his players let alone one who is so valuable. It might be a case of having to hold Steven back a bit for his own good but when he does enter the fray it will give everyone a boost which shows what a player Steven is.”