STEVEN GERRARD has welcomed the return of “top professional” Craig Bellamy to Anfield and backed him to make a big impact this season.
The Liverpool skipper was delighted with the deadline day swoop for the Welsh striker who completed a free transfer from Manchester City.
Bellamy is back at the club he left four years ago and Gerrard is confident the 32-year-old will prove to be a real asset for boss Kenny Dalglish.
“I’m delighted that Craig is back – I didn’t want him to leave in the first place,” Gerrard said.
“That pace and the fiery character he’s got will help us in our push for success this season.
“When he was here before he was popular and one of the hardest working in training. He was always in the gym getting himself in good shape.
“What people need to realise is that Craig is a top professional. He works really hard day in, day out.
“He’s very knowledgeable about the game and I know even though he’s slightly older than me he will still want to learn and do well here.
“I’m sure he will be desperate to play for Kenny. He will have watched Liverpool from the outside like me in recent months and seen a lot of positive things. He will be excited to come back and we’re glad to have him back.”
Gerrard, who will return to full training later this week after completing his rehab following groin surgery, has also backed Liverpool’s decision to let Raul Meireles leave just before the transfer window closed.
The Portugal international was allowed to move to Chelsea for £12million after submitting a written transfer request.
“It was a bit of a surprise because of the timing,” Gerrard said.
“I don’t think Raul had been too happy because he wanted more game time, but the players who have been playing before him have been doing really well .
“He put in a transfer request and I’m sure Kenny and Damien (Comolli) thought if he’s going to be unhappy and doesn’t want to be here then it was better to move him on.
“It was probably the right decision and we got good money back for him.”
Meireles has insisted his desire to make the switch to Stamford Bridge wasn’t due to financial reasons.
“I can only say good things about Liverpool, it was a fantastic year,” Meireles said.
“People think I am a Judas and that it was because of the money. It was not because of that, I will explain it later, things are still fresh.
“It all happened very fast. I am not the only one to blame for my exit from Liverpool, but I will never stop loving the club and I have great friends there.”
Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson has been released from the England Under-21s squad ahead of tonight’s friendly against Israel at Oakwell.
The Reds midfielder has been allowed to return to Melwood to prepare for Saturday’s trip to Stoke.