Hodgson revels in Gerrard stay

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Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes Steven Gerrard's commitment to stay at the club means he will start the season with a squad stronger than one he inherited from predecessor Rafael Benitez.

Signing midfielder Joe Cole on a free transfer after he was released by Chelsea was a real coup, but convincing Gerrard there was a successful future ahead at Anfield was even more vital.

"It will be a tough season with a lot of matches and the disappointment of last season (finishing seventh) is going to take a while to dissipate," said Hodgson. "But it is very good that our best player is still going to be playing at this club."

He added: "It's a great piece of news and fingers crossed the speculation about Steven will go away. The club has made no secret and I have made no secret that I came to work with people like Steven Gerrard, not to see him disappear before I get the chance to work with him.

"It seems now with that commitment that this will happen. It gives everyone a boost without question.

"Hopefully with the signing of Joe Cole - and if we are lucky one or two others to boost the squad - we will be going into this season's competition maybe stronger on paper than we were last season."

Gerrard has been angered by suggestions he wanted to leave the club, with all the speculation coming from Spain with suggestions Jose Mourinho - who tried to sign the midfielder twice while Chelsea boss - was preparing a move.

"I made it clear that I simply needed to concentrate on the World Cup and then have a decent holiday with my family," said the midfielder. "I wanted the chance to meet Roy Hodgson privately and, having done so, I'm very impressed with his plans for the future.

"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. I know Joe well through the England set-up so it will be fantastic to play alongside him in a red shirt for Liverpool."

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

Joe Cole
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Steven Gerrard

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