Lawro: Gerrard still key for Liverpool

Steven Gerrard will remain a key figure in the Liverpool first team, despite a raft of midfield arrivals at Anfield this summer, according to former Red Mark Lawrenson.

The England midfielder struggled to make an impact last term in a campaign hampered by injuries, making just 24 appearances in all competitions over the course of the season.

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The summer arrivals of Charlie Adam from Blackpool, Sunderland's Jordan Henderson and winger Stewart Downing from Aston Villa will leave competition for a place in the Liverpool midfield particularly fierce this season.

Yet Lawrenson, who played 332 matches for the Merseysiders between 1981 and 1988, has exclusively told that there's little chance the England star will be involved in any kind of 'squad rotation'.

“No, I think he’ll be in the team every week." Lawrenson explained. "And I think the idea will be to get him as close to Luis Suarez as you possibly can.

“Since Liverpool lost [Xabi] Alonso, Steven has had to play a bit deeper. Outstanding player though he is, he just can’t make up 60 yards in five seconds, so the signing of Charlie Adam is basically to ensure there's somebody to pass from deeper positions to enable Steven to get closer to the likes of Suarez and Andy Carroll.

“I think Steven will almost be like a new player when he comes back, because he’s been out for so long and they’ve sort of nursed him and tried to slowly ease him back in. I think the further forward Steven plays the better.”

The arrivals of Henderson and Adam have taken the number of central midfielders currently on the club's books to 10, with some pundits suggesting this could lead to some fringe players being left frustrated at their lack of involvement.

However, BBC pundit Lawrenson doesn't see that as a problem, insisting Dalglish will only concern himself with results.

"I think because Kenny’s old school, he won’t worry about that. He’ll just say, ‘well that will take care of itself’.

"If they’re winning it’s not a problem, and if they’re losing he can change the team. He may even change the formation.

“I mean, since he’s been there, he’s played two or three different formations. He went to Chelsea [in February] with three centre-backs and it worked. So, he’ll look at the opposition and work out what system he wants to play and which players.”

Pundit Mark Lawrenson was talking about the forthcoming season at the Kinect Sports for Xbox 360 football event at the Sports Café, Central London

By James Maw