Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is pleased his "nightmare" is finally over after ending a six-month injury lay-off.
The England midfielder played the last 15 minutes of the Reds' 2-1 Carling Cup win at Brighton on Wednesday night, his first appearance since a groin operation in March.
Gerrard would have been back sooner had he not picked up an infection in late July which set him back a few more weeks but the 31-year-old is now looking to reclaim his regular spot in the first team. "It was good to be back with the lads," he said.
"I'd been out a long time and it was fantastic to be out there in that kit again and it was nice to get a win as well. It's been a nightmare for me. I'm not the best when I'm out injured and watching games.
"It's been tough and the last six months have been a rollercoaster. But it's behind me now and I'm looking forward to getting match fit and getting back in the starting line-up."
Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt gave the Reds a comfortable lead and Ashley Barnes' late penalty did not change the outcome.
The competition is being taken seriously by manager Kenny Dalglish and Gerrard is hopeful they will be rewarded with a good run.
"We're glad to be in the draw for the next round and we're looking forward to seeing who we get in the draw on Saturday," added the midfielder.
"We haven't been to a major cup final for a long time. We have to take every cup seriously and when there's no Europe that makes it easier to put strong sides out.
"Kenny has assembled a fantastic squad now with a couple of good players in each position. Even when he mixes it around or rests people we still put a strong side out."
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