Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is aiming to bring the form that has helped revive the club's English Premier League title bid into the international arena. The 28-year-old midfielder, who scored a hat-trick in Liverpool's recent 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa, is set to feature in both England's friendly with Slovakia on Saturday and next week's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Ukraine.
Liverpool's latest win coupled with their shock 4-1 triumph away to Manchester United the previous week and the champions' equally surprise defeat by Fulham last Saturday, have enabled the Merseysiders to close to within a point of the leaders. But Gerrard, speaking at an England news conference, insisted: "It's been a fantastic two weeks at club level but I've got to put that aside now and focus totally on these two games.
Hopefully, I can stay in the set-up for a long time. I'm happy with my 70 caps, I've missed a few through injury and hopefully I can get a few more in the future.
"Certainly after two wins for England I would be smiling going back to Liverpool," he added. "It was fantastic to score three goals (against Villa) but more importantly the win kept the momentum going and meant we stayed on United's shoulders. Chelsea lost as well so it was a fantastic weekend to be a Liverpool player."
Turning back to England, Gerrard added: "I've missed the last two England friendlies through injury which was disappointing. But I'm really happy with the way I'm playing at the moment. I need to say a big thank you to the Liverpool players as well. It's down to them the way I'm playing and I need to try to take that into the next two England games."
The Ukraine match will be the one that matters most out of their two upcoming fixtures, with England looking to maintain their perfect record in the quest to qualify for the 2010 world finals in South Africa. Gerrard, though, is expecting a difficult encounter against Slovakia, who have one of his Anfield team-mates in their side.
"It will be a test and it will be good preparation for us," Gerrard said. "Martin Skrtel is my team-mate and he is getting better all the time, I'm sure he will be a world-class player in the future. There has been a bit of banter with Martin, but he's quiet despite being vocal and very tough on the pitch," Gerrard added of the Liverpool centre-half.
"If his team-mates are as good as him we are in for a really tough game. They are coming to Wembley so they will be up for it and we'll show them respect," Gerrard went on.
David Beckham could become England's most-capped outfield player, breaking the record of 108 appearances he currently shares with 1966 FIFA World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore, if he featured on Saturday. "It's a phenomenal record and I'd love to see him break it," Gerrard said. "Hopefully, I can stay in the set-up for a long time. I'm happy with my 70 caps, I've missed a few through injury and hopefully I can get a few more in the future."