Gerrard injury woes keep pressure on Reds

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Liverpool have confirmed that captain Steven Gerrard will miss this weekend's Barclays Premier League clash against Swansea City.

The news comes as a further blow to the England international midfielder, who has missed large parts of 2011 through injury, most notably following a groin operation and subsequent infection in the area.

A cut ankle in training is now adding further to the 31-year-old's woes at both domestic and international level, with the Reds confirming Gerrard will also miss England's international friendlies against Spain and Sweden.

"Steven Gerrard has undergone treatment to clear out all infection from his right ankle, which has been placed in a protective plaster cast. The player will not be available for this weekend's game against Swansea City or for the upcoming England friendlies against Spain and Sweden," read a statement on the club's website.

"Steven will now continue his rehabilitation programme under the guidance of the Club's medical staff."

The ankle issue is the latest in a growing list of troubles for the club's talisman, with a hamstring tear in November 2010, playing for England against France, forcing the player out of five matches leading up to the New Year.

A couple of months later, and Gerrard's groin troubles came to fruition in Liverpool's 1-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It would keep him out for the rest of the season, and meant the skipper played only 21 of 38 league games during the campaign.

Expected to return fresh for the start of the current season, Gerrard was forced into hospital in July to have a course of antibiotic treatment on an infection of the groin, again delaying his first team comeback after missing the entire pre-season schedule.

After a handful of substitute appearances in late September and early October, he was back in the starting line-up for the clash against Manchester United, marking the Anfield return with a free-kick goal in the 1-1 draw.

Gerrard admitted post-match that the six months previous had been the worst of his footballing career, and that doubts had started to creep in over his long-term future on Merseyside.

"There were times when I was as low as I've ever been as a footballer. It took time before I got back into a positive frame of mind. Without doubt the last six months have been the hardest of my career," he said.

Currently 10th on the list of all-time appearance makers for the Reds, his position as a club legend is already well-and-truly cemented, but the future currently being painted at the club suggests one without Gerrard every week.

Kenny Dalglish will be careful nurturing the player back into first team activities after the international break on November 12th, and another spate of substitute appearances can be expected before a return to starting.

Writing off Gerrard would, of course, be one of the biggest mistakes anyone could make, and 'King Kenny' has already gone on record to state he'd be happy to offer the player a contract past his current deal, which expires in 2013.

"Steven has been fantastic for this football club whether he is playing or not playing. Anybody who is an asset to the football club I am sure we will look forward to keeping," he said on the 13th October.

There is little doubt the latest knock will change the Scot's mind, but the club have certainly benefited from an influx of midfielders in the summer, with Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam joining Lucas Leiva in the first team ranks.

Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey, two of the club's rising talents, have little chance of league appearances even with Gerrard's injury woes this term.

Whilst that's disappointing for the two youngsters, it's a major positive that the club now have cover for their influential captain, showing just how far they've come against West Brom on Saturday with a 2-0 victory against former boss Roy Hodgson.

Sitting 6th in the table, Liverpool have shown that they are contenders for a Champions League spot with-or-without Gerrard this season. They can cope without their biggest star, but if they can make it over the fourth place hurdle without him is a question they hopefully won't have to answer.

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