STEVEN GERRARD is still Liverpool’s Captain Indispensable, says boss Brendan Rodgers.
And the Reds boss has urged the club’s American owners to make an exception to their youth policy and offer the 32-year-old a new long-term deal.
Gerrard will lead the Reds out at Arsenal tonight, maintaining his record of having played every minute of every Premier League match so far this season – his longest unbroken spell of league football since 2008.
But Rodgers believes his reshaped squad is not at a stage of their development where they could afford to be without a man who has been a club talisman for more than a decade.
“Steven Gerrard is a unique player. When he came on at Oldham it was like someone had dropped him from heaven into the game,” he declared.
“We went to a totally different level when he came on.
“Unfortunately at this stage I can’t say that without Steven Gerrard we would be all right because I don’t believe we would.
“This is a top, top player who gives so much quality but also enthusiasm.”
Gerrard has 16 months remaining on his present Anfield deal – and so far no moves have been made to sit down with the skipper and discuss a new contract.
But Rodgers believes it is only a matter of time before that happens.
“As yet I don’t believe anything has been done,” he added. “Steven and I have spoken a number of times.
“His feeling the last time we spoke was let’s get through this season and see how that goes. His focus is on really helping the group to go forward.
“There’s no doubt that between now and the end of this season the contract will be looked at.
“With each day that goes on you see the real importance he still has to the club.
“At 32 years of age, he still looks so fit, so strong and you can see his influence on the team.”
And the manager added that he regularly reports back to John Henry and Tom Werner on the importance of Gerrard.
“They watch all the games from afar. They understand and I have regular dialogue with them.
“I can only feed back in terms of his qualities both as a player and as a leader of the club.
“As a captain he’s been phenomenal.
“It’s not like they don’t get to know about it. Between now and the end of the season we will have a clear look at that for sure.”
In addition to Gerrard, the Reds are likely to welcome back fit-again trio Pepe Reina, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson, plus Daniel Agger and Stewart Downing to their starting line-up tonight.
Full-back Enrique has not played since suffering a hamstring tear against QPR a month ago while goalkeeper Reina has missed two games with nose and thigh injuries and full-back Johnson sat out the FA Cup defeat by Oldham because of a hamstring problem.