England skipper Steven Gerrard is relishing being able to make an impact in a more forward role in tomorrow's FIFA World Cup™ clash with Algeria after the return to the starting XI of Gareth Barry. Gerrard was forced to drop deeper during the 1-1 draw with the United States despite scoring England's goal.
But the full recovery of Barry from the ankle injury which threatened his participation in the tournament has cleared the way for the Liverpool star to venture further up the pitch. And the 30-year-old believes the return of Barry will strengthen England for the meeting with the Algerians in Cape Town.
Gerrard said: "It is great to have Gareth back. He is a terrific passer of the ball, he is so calm in possession. He gives protection to the two centre-halves if they need it and he has been fantastic for England during the past two years. His return to the side really strengthens the starting X1."
Barry played a key part in England qualifying for the finals with nine wins in 10 matches in giving Frank Lampard and Gerrard licence to go forward. He suffered his injury in early May when on duty for Manchester City against Tottenham but his availability will enable Gerrard to switch to the position he enjoys the most.
It is great to have Gareth back. He is a terrific passer of the ball, he is so calm in possession.
Gerrard said: "It is not for me to prejudge what the manager is going to do and I will do whatever job the manager asks me to do to the best of my ability. But, if I am able to play in a more attacking role, then it suits me and I will look forward to that."
Gerrard also believes it will only be a matter of time before Wayne Rooney starts delivering the goal-power and form that made him one of the best players in the world during the past season. Rooney has netted 25 goals for his country in 61 internationals but only one in eight internationals during the past 12 months in contrast to his form for Manchester United.
Gerrard said: "Wayne has looked great in training and it is only a matter of time before he finds the back of the net and everyone says he is on great form again. During the past season, he has been one of the best players in the world -- and it is only a matter of time before he is back to that form."
Gerrard is optimistic England will improve on their performance against the USA as they look to register their first win in the tournament. He said: "We were pleased with the majority of the performance but in the first game there is a lot of tension and pressure. Hopefully in this game you will see a more fluent performance from England. We have looked sharp in training and everyone is looking for a convincing win tomorrow."
England enjoyed a clean bill of health during their final training session before the game with 22 players put through their paces. Ledley King was the only absentee as he continues his rehabilitation work after suffering a groin injury against the USA last weekend.