Gerrard set to push on
Reds skipper working hard in training to get back in peak condition

Liverpool first-team coach Steve Clarke believes it is now the ideal time for Steven Gerrard to step up his fitness work and make further progress in his comeback from injury.

The Reds skipper has only recently returned to action following a groin operation which kept him on the sidelines for six months.

He has so far made three appearances as a substitute as manager Kenny Dalglish looks to carefully ease him back after such a lengthy lay-off.

Dalglish has also welcomed Fabio Capello's decision not to call Gerrard into the England squad for Friday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro, and Liverpoolwill continue to take things slowly.

However, while they will not be taking any risks, the coaching staff are planning to gradually increase the intensity of Gerrard's training sessions to get him back in peak condition and available to start games.

"For Steven it's just a progression. He's coming back from a long-term injury and we'll try to treat him as cautiously and carefully as we can," Clarke told the club's official website.

"Obviously there will be a time when he is going to have to push on - and I think this is the time now.


"We've only got a very small group of players left behind because we've got a lot of players away on international duty. There were only six players training on Wednesday, but we managed to get a lot of good work into them with such a small number.

"On Thursday we'll bring up the reserve-team squad to join in, which will give us more numbers.

"With Steven it has been well documented that we're looking after him. He's going to have to push himself in the coming weeks - and the more minutes we get into him, the better."

Liverpool designed special programmes for Gerrard to help in his rehabilitation and Clarke has been impressed by his progress.

He said: "After you've been out for a long time, you struggle with the pace of the game and the size of the pitches, so we worked with him in small areas and then gradually started to make the areas bigger. Every step is important.

"He's handled the steps we've given him so far very well and we'll just look to push him on."