Gerrard: I'm ready for return
Steven Gerrard has declared himself ready for a return to Premier League action after ending his six-month injury lay-off in Liverpool's 2-1 League Cup third round victory over Brighton on Wednesday.
Gerrard had been sidelined with a groin problem since facing Manchester United in March, but the England midfielder returned on Wednesday with a 17 minute appearance at the Amex Stadium as the Reds secured a place in the fourth round draw.
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insisted after the game that Gerrard would not be rushed back into action, but the Anfield captain made it clear he is desperate to be involved in his side's next league clash against Wolves. "It is down to the manager now," he said. "I have been out for six months so it is about getting training sessions under my belt and match time. Hopefully I will be selected against Wolves."
Dalglish is anxious to manage Gerrard's return carefully but the Scot admitted that the England midfielder's return strengthens his squad significantly. "It was fantastic for everyone connected to the club to see Steven back, but we're more pleased for Steven than anything else," he said. "He's had a few disappointments along the way to coming back, so just to get 20 minutes will have given him a lift.
"We'll manage the situation as diligently as we have done so far. We need to be careful and we won't be carried away. It makes our squad an awful lot stronger. Getting Steven back will be a like a new signing for us. To get your talisman back on the right road to fitness is selfishly great for us, but is fantastic for Steven as well."
Craig Bellamy set Liverpool on course for victory with his first goal for the club since his return, from Manchester City, and the win was confirmed by Dirk Kuyt's 81st minute strike before Ashley Barnes' late penalty for Brighton ensured a nervy finish. Wales international Bellamy was paired up front with Luis Suarez and repeatedly caused Brighton problems throughout the game, pressing his claims for another start.
"Craig was fantastic," Dalglish added. "When he came in we said he'd make a contribution and it's not taken him long. He just loves playing football. He's really enthusiastic and fit. He is a supporter of the club, that sometimes sounds a bit sickly but he is. And he wants to do the best for them.
"They all linked up well, the four of them, Suarez, Maxi Rodriguez, Dirk and Craig. They are good footballers and intelligent ones, so you'd expect that."
Spanish flavour at Brighton
Brighton manager Gus Poyet was able to introduce Vicente as a second half substitute for the former Spain midfielder's first appearance since his move to the Amex Stadium. The former Valencia man, 30, arrived as a free agent but boasts considerable UEFA Champions League experience and has been capped 38 times by his country.
And Poyet expects him to have a major impact on the Championship. "It will be fantastic to get him fit for English football and we will have on of the best players in the division, no doubt," Poyet said. "We won't make the mistake of forcing him too quickly and I will ask him how he is and whether he is fit to face Leeds on Friday.
"He will operate as a playmaker. He has the quality, mentality and understanding of the game and while I don't want to compare him to anyone, he plays like a lot of players in Spain do in that position. But he has to get used to the pace of the English game and the craziness of games away from home."