STEVEN GERRARD is closing in on a comeback for Liverpool and insists: “I feel fitter, stronger and hungrier than ever.”
The talismanic Reds skipper will return to full training next week and is hoping to make his long awaited return in the Premier League clash at Tottenham on September 18.
Gerrard is nearing the completion of a gruelling rehabilitation programme following career-saving groin surgery in April.
It’s been a long road back to fitness but the end is in sight and in an exclusive interview with the ECHO, the 31-year-old admits he’s desperate to spearhead Liverpool’s push for honours under Kenny Dalglish this season.
“I feel really good and I’m back kicking balls again – it’s all positive,” he said.
“I should be back in full training with the team on Thursday or Friday of next week.
“I won’t be involved against Stoke next Saturday but my plan is to hopefully be involved in the game against Tottenham.
“I need to get some full training with the team under my belt and I’llhave a better idea of my fitness condition when I play in a practice match which is being arranged. It will be Kenny’s decision when I come back in.
“At the moment it’s all good and I’m itching to get back. In fact it’s worse than itching, my stomach is turning.
“It’s been a tough five months for me since I had the surgery. It’s been up and down emotionally and I’ve missed playing so much.
“I’ve had a good rest, I’m fired up and I’m raring to go again. I know I’m going to come back fitter, stronger and hungrier than ever.”
Gerrard had been hampered by his groin since February and was having pain-killing injections to enable him to get through games.
A minor procedure in March failed to cure the problem and a month later the decision was taken to have major surgery.
His rehab hit a snag in July and he was diagnosed with an infection related to the operation.
A week of antibiotics in hospital followed but over the past month he has made rapid progress.
“I basically had career-saving surgery and it’s gone really well,” added Gerrard, whose last appearance for the Reds was against Manchester United on March 6.
“The operation was a big success. I had a small setback with the infection but finding out about that was actually a relief.
“I was at the stage where I was outside running again but getting some discomfort from around my pelvis.
“It was really frustrating because we couldn’t work out what the pain was. When blood tests revealed I had an infection it was fantastic news
“It was strange because I wasn’t ill and usually when you get these types of infections you are in bed sick. I must just be a weird human being because I was perfectly normal and well.
“Intravenous antibiotics into my veins cleared it up and I’ve been pain free for four weeks now.
“Since coming out of hospital my rehab has gone really well. I’m really happy and positive again. My groin is as strong as it’s ever been.
“Now it’s just a case of getting match fit and then hopefully my form will come back straight away.
“I’m excited about getting back out there.”