Steve Clarke has revealed that Steven Gerrard is using the international break to continue his recovery from injury, and get back to top game fitness in preparation to play Manchester United in a week and a half.
Gerrard has been building up game time with Liverpool again, and the midfielder wasn’t chosen for the England squad this weekend so he could continue to work on getting back to his old ways.
The 31-year-old is returning to action very slowly, with the up-most caution being displayed by Reds boss Kenny Dalglish, and Clarke explained that by doing this the fans will have their skipper back on the pitch for the long-term.
"For Steven it's just a progression. He's coming back from a long-term injury and we'll try to treat him as cautiously and carefully as we can,” Clarke said.
"Obviously there will be a time when he is going to have to push on - and I think this is the time now.
"We've only got a very small group of players left behind because we've got a lot of players away on international duty. There were only six players training on Wednesday, but we managed to get a lot of good work into them with such a small number.
"On Thursday we'll bring up the reserve-team squad to join in, which will give us more numbers.
"With Steven it has been well documented that we're looking after him. He's going to have to push himself in the coming weeks - and the more minutes we get into him, the better."
Gerrard came on in the 67th minute against Everton on Saturday, along with summer signing Craig Bellamy, and Clarke argued that the reasoning behind it was because both stars were fresh and ready to outrun the opposition.
"When you make substitutions at that stage of the game, you expect them to come on and have an impact because they're coming on fresh - but that's not to take anything away from the players who had been on the pitch from the start,” he said.
"They had done the groundwork by staying patient, making the pitch as big possible and making Everton run around a bit, so when your substitutes come on they have an opportunity to make that impact."