Gerrard looking forward to new era

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Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has intimated he intends to stay at the club after admitting he is impressed with manager Roy Hodgson's plans and believes it "will be fantastic" to play alongside new signing Joe Cole.

The England midfielder, who has been linked with a summer move to Real Madrid, welcomed the arrival of his international team-mate after the former Chelsea star agreed a four-year deal on Monday. And having kept silent on his thoughts on the appointment of Hodgson and his future because of his captaincy duties at the World Cup Gerrard has now spoken out.

"I wanted the chance to meet Roy Hodgson privately and having done so, I'm very impressed with his plans for the future," said Gerrard. "I know Joe well through the England set-up so it will be fantastic to play alongside him in a red shirt for Liverpool."

Gerrard cut a disconsolate figure at times last season as the club limped to seventh place in the Barclays Premier League, their worst finish for a decade.

New Real manager Jose Mourinho, who twice tried to sign Gerrard when he was manager at Chelsea, began the charm offensive early by making public his admiration for the 30-year-old.

Gerrard, having been given the responsibility of the England captaincy after Rio Ferdinand's injury, refused to talk about his views on his future.

The player admitted the intense speculation linking him with a move to Stamford Bridge four years ago had affected his performances at the World Cup in Germany and he was not prepared to battle similar issues in South Africa.

Gerrard and his England team-mates Jamie Carragher and Glen Johnson returned to start pre-season at the club's Melwood training ground on Tuesday and he has spoken about how much he is looking forward to the new season.

"I made it clear that I simply needed to concentrate on the World Cup and then have a decent holiday with my family," Gerrard told the Liverpool Echo.

"I've only returned to training (on Tuesday) at Melwood with some of the other World Cup players, but I can't wait for the new season to start."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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