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03 Nov 2012 10:32
Liverpool's English midfielder Steven Gerrard. (AFP)
Gerrard will make the appearance against Newcastle at Anfield on Sunday.
Gerrard, 32, is rated as one of Liverpool's greatest players but despite winning the Champions League with the Merseysiders in 2005, he has never enjoyed a domestic title triumph.
The midfielder twice turned down the chance to join Chelsea – in 2005 and 2006 – and is now set to spend the rest of his career at his home town team.
His loyalty to Liverpool is matched by his importance to the club and Rodgers claims the willingness of England captain Gerrard to improve his game, even at an age where many players are thinking about retirement, is what marks him out.
"He's been brilliant since I came in," said Rodgers. "He's 32 years of age, captain of the England team and he and I are still looking at ways to improve his game – and that is a big mark of respect to him because he's achieved many things in the game.
"We're looking at videos, analysing his game one to one and looking at areas he can improve – I think that says everything about him, about his mentality and his willingness to want to improve.
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, he's an iconic figure for this football club and hopefully on Sunday he gains that 600th appearance.
"I think he's still got a lot left in the tank because of his motivation.
Mentally he wants to achieve and physically he's looking very good at the moment," Rodgers added.
The Liverpool manager is desperate to reverse the miserable away form of his team, who have only managed three league victories at Anfield all year.
The Reds have won their last seven home league matches against Newcastle, only scoring less than three goals in two of those games.
But Rodgers, who claims he will have enough money to add reinforcements in the January transfer window, is keen to boost his team's home points tally.
"It's something we want to improve.
"We've had difficult games this season at home and been unfortunate not to have won more of those in the league.
"We know it's going to be a tough game against Newcastle. I respect every team that comes to Anfield – it's a big moment in their careers and always has been over many years.
"That doesn't change because of the history and support of the club."
Liverpool defender Glen Johnson is doubtful with a muscle problem but striker Fabio Borini, midfielder Lucas, and defender Martin Kelly are all long-term absentees.
Newcastle look likely to be without seven-goal top scorer Demba Ba as they go in search of their first victory at Anfield for 18 years.
The Senegal international is struggling with a calf problem that forced him off early in the 2-1 victory over West Brom, which pushed the north-east club into the top half of the Premier League table.
Papiss Cisse, who came off the bench to score his first league goal for five months against Steve Clarke's side, is set to replace his compatriot up front alongside Shola Ameobi.
James Perch will again deputise in midfield for Cheick Tiote, the Ivory Coast international who serves the second of a three-match suspension for his sending off at Sunderland last month.
Newcastle have failed to win in their last 17 visits to the red half of Merseyside, but Perch is confident Alan Pardew's side can end the long, fruitless run to continue their encouraging start to the season.
The 27-year-old said: "We've not done too well there on our last few visits, but Liverpool have had a couple of disappointing results in the last week and we'll go there to win.
"They've got a new manager who is trying to get them to play his way, and it won't happen overnight." – Sapa-AFP
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