Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has paid tribute to the club's loyal supporters after his return from injury against Blackburn on Boxing Day.

The England international midfielder has endured a frustrating spell on the sidelines, with a groin injury and infection followed by an ankle infection picked up soon after his return in October.

It's often left the 31-year-old feeling isolated and working alone, but the Anfield reception on his return four days ago quickly helped the skipper forget about his recent troubles.

"It's just great to be back involved again and be back with my teammates. The last eight weeks have been really long. It was a freak injury and coming so soon after being out for so long with my groin it's been absolute torture," Gerrard told the official Liverpool website.

"I've just had to work so hard to get back again and now I'm looking forward to playing games. Coming on against Blackburn was special. The reception I got when I came on was really touching and it meant a lot to me.

"There have been a lot of lonely days in the gym this year when you struggle to motivate yourself. But moments like that make it all worthwhile. The support I've had from the supporters throughout has been magnificent and I want to thank them for that."

Whilst 2011 has been a year to forget for Gerrard personally, he's eager to finish it on a high-note with the team, and is hoping to be involved in tonight's clash against Newcastle at Anfield.

And, after working hard to return to full fitness for the Reds, the talisman is confident that there are plenty of positives around the corner in the New Year.

"I have worked my socks off over the past eight weeks and I feel really good. I'm feeling in great condition and all I need now is minutes under my belt to get the sharpness back," he added.

"Kenny knows me inside out and he will know when the time is right for me to come in from the start. He will make the decision and I will just follow his lead.

"Hopefully I'll play some part in the game against Newcastle and we all want to finish 2011 on a high.

"I'm looking forward to 2012. There's still so much to play for this season. If I can just get a bit of luck and stay fit hopefully I can really enjoy the final five months of the season."

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