How will Dalglish solve a problem like Gerrard?

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The return of Steven Gerrard provides Kenny Dalglish with the type of selection dilemma many managers could only dream about contemplating.

But, the question is, when and - perhaps more importantly - where does Dalglish fit his captain into a side with a wealth of midfield talent?

Well, it would appear unlikely Dalglish will have to give this too much consideration on Saturday as the Reds travel to Goodison Park for the Merseyside derby.

With only 24 minutes of first team action under his belt after six months on the sidelines, it is not expected Gerrard will make the cut when Dalglish names his starting XI tomorrow.

"The game is not the important thing – Steven Gerrard is more important," said the Liverpool boss. “As we’ve said before, we’ll manage Steven as well as we possibly can."

However, what will happen when it is judged the 31-year-old is ready to complete a full 90 minutes is certainly open to debate.

In the summer, Liverpool identified their midfield as an area in desperate need of reinforcement and, with the help of Damien Comolli, Dalglish spent over £40 million on new talent.

Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam all moved to Anfield to provide more competition in the middle of the park and each of the trio has started every Barclays Premier League fixture this term.

And, with Lucas Leiva - Liverpool's reigning player of the season - the Reds have a midfield capable of mixing it with the very best in the league.

But who, if any, of the foursome will make way for Gerrard? Common sense would seem to suggest that 21-year-old Henderson would be the most likely to move aside for the captain.

Still a relative novice, Henderson is likely to be treated with extra care by Dalglish - especially after his exploits during the summer with the England under-21s.

However, this would mean Gerrard could find himself on the right of a four-man midfield - a position in which previous managers have played the England international in futile attempts to get the best out of him.


A wide-berth for Gerrard is surely out of the question as, not only does he lack the touchline hugging mentality Dalglish craves, but he has significantly more effective through the middle.

Does this mean Adam or Lucas could be shafted for the Reds legend? One gets the impression that Dalglish would strive to stick with Adam, with previous evidence suggesting the Liverpool manager admires the 25-year-old both personally and professionally.

But the idea of Gerrard and Adam working in tandem raises some doubts. Is it possible for either to thrive whilst both operating in, essentially, the same role? I'm not so sure.

A Gerrard and Lucas combination, then, would appear to make sense, although dropping Adam would see Liverpool lose out on one of the best set-piece takers on show in this country.

However, it is still possible for Dalglish to start with Gerrard and not upset the balance of an increasingly settled Reds midfield: play him off Luis Suarez.

With Andy Carroll still not a guaranteed starter for Liverpool, the prospect of Gerrard playing behind Suarez - as part of a five-man midfield - is a genuine possibility.

With Gerrard's ability to find the decisive pass and Suarez's clinical finishing when presented an opportunity, Dalglish could have on his hands the making of a partnership as fruitful as that of Gerrard and Fernando Torres.

I've tried my best, but how would you solve a problem like Gerrard?

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