Gerard Houllier believes Steven Gerrard is the perfect choice to take over from the injured Rio Ferdinand as England captain at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. The former Liverpool manager insists the Liverpool player thrives on responsibility, and wearing the skipper's armband will increase his value to the Three Lions.

"I am pleased for Stevie," Houllier said. "It is a good reward to be captain of England. He must be absolutely over the moon.

"He is a winner and he will give an urge to drive them on all the time. He never gives up. He leads by example, giving a lot of mental and physical energy to himself and the team.

He is a winner and he will give an urge to drive them on all the time. He never gives up. He leads by example.

Gerard Houllier on Steven Gerrard

"His game should be even better. He likes responsibility. He likes when people trust him. That is when he can surpass himself and deliver even more."

Houllier also believes England can reach the semi-finals at least in South Africa, despite the setback of losing Ferdinand to a knee ligament injury. "England were extremely frustrated at not being in Switzerland and Austria in the European Championships two years ago," Houllier told the Sportsweek radio programme.

"This time they look to have a great desire to deliver and with players of the quality of Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard they can do extremely well and they can even finish in the top four."

Houllier support for Hodgson
Meanwhile, Houllier ruled himself out of returning to Anfield following the departure of Rafa Benitez, but said he would be "delighted" if Liverpool chose bookmakers' favourite Roy Hodgson as their new manager.

"Roy has done very well with an average team at Fulham, and he is used to coaching stars," said Houllier, who admitted he would like to return to the Premier League one day. "If the right opportunity arises, then yes," he concluded.