Kenny Dalglish says it is important to be patient with Steven Gerrard as the Liverpool captain increases his fitness levels.

Gerrard has made only eight appearances this season, and his outing against Blackburn on Boxing Day was his first in two months.

However, since the 31-year-old's return to action, he has not featured in Dalglish's starting XI, despite a man-of-the-match performance after coming on in the win over Newcastle.

Many had touted Gerrard to be handed a start against Manchester City, but he was again required to come off the bench, and was unable to prevent Liverpool falling to a 3-0 defeat.

But Dalglish does not want to rush his skipper back into action too quickly, following an injury-plagued 12 months.

"Stevie is improving his level of fitness all the time but we have to be very careful as to how he prepares," he told the official Liverpool website.

"It would be wrong of us to be negligent and throw him in and undo all the good work he has done so far.

"We would love to have him back fit and well but we just have to be a bit patient."

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