BRENDAN RODGERS has defended his decision not to start captain Steven Gerrard in the FA Cup tie against Oldham Athletic.
The England skipper began the fourth round tie on the substitutes’ bench as Luis Suarez wore the Reds armband for the first time since joining the club.
Rodgers made six changes from the side that thumped Norwich City in the Premier League the previous weekend but will have been confident the starting 11 had ample quality to see off the League One strugglers.
However, at 3-1 down just after half-time Rodgers was forced to call upon Gerrard to try and rescue the Reds from an embarrassing defeat.
The skipper was the driving force behind Liverpool’s improved performance in the second half and he came agonisingly close to making it 3-3 but saw his thunderous shot cannon back off the bar as Oldham survived to book a fifth round tie with Everton.
Rodgers insists he has few regrets over leaving Gerrard on the bench and says Liverpool cannot keep relying on the 32-year-old to dig them out of holes.
“Steven Gerrard has come on with Stewart Downing and for 35 minutes we were terrific but it was too late then,” he said.
“We were 3-1 down. It was not good enough.
“Its not complacency. I’ve got good lads here. It’s about strength in depth. We have not got enough depth here. We are trying to build a squad to compete.
“I can’t rely on Steven for 70 games (a season). He’s been incredible and you’ve seen him come on today. He shouldn’t be expected to have to come and win games on his own. He comes on and gives real impetus to the team.
“He gave real drive to the team.”