'Leader' Gerrard earns praise
Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has hailed Steven Gerrard, while he has no concerns about Fernando Torres.
Last Updated: 27/12/10 2:48pm
Roy Hodgson has praised the leadership qualities of fit-again captain Steven Gerrard, while the Liverpool boss has also rubbished speculation about Fernando Torres' commitment.
Gerrard is set to return to the first team in Wednesday's Premier League meeting with Wolves, having recovered from the hamstring injury that he suffered in England's friendly against France in November.
Liverpool's skipper has been fit for a couple of weeks, but the freezing weather-enforced fixture postponements against Fulham and Blackpool have delayed his comeback.
Hodgson, though, still acknowledges the impact Gerrard has around the Liverpool camp and he is therefore desperate to have the 30-year-old back on the field to help the quest to climb from a 10th-placed league position.
"Steven helps all players, and it is harder to find leaders in the world of football today," Hodgson told Liverpool's official website. "You think of the great teams of the past and their leaders jump out at you.
"Often there were several in the same team. Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay at Spurs, the great Arsenal team with (Tony) Adams etc.
"Today it is not so easy to pick out the leaders. We are lucky to have one or two but what you are fighting for as a coach is to get more leaders in your team.
"The less results you get the less leaders you have though, it's as simple as that."
Hodgson also thinks that it is only a matter of time before Torres is back to his lethal best, despite questions about the Spain striker's fitness and future at Anfield.
"I just think Fernando is getting stronger, fitter and more confident," said Liverpool's manager. "All he needs is a goal or two and then he'll explode.
"I watch him in training every day and he works very hard, he's fully committed to everything, but he's a front player and they play on unbelievably tight margins.
"All he needs is a couple of goals or a couple of good performances and you will see the Fernando Torres of old."
Meanwhile, defender Daniel Ayala has returned from his loan spell at Championship side Hull City due to injury.
The 20-year-old centre-half, whose three-month deal was due to expire on 1st January has been absent for the last five games with a troublesome hamstring problem.
A Hull statement read: "Everybody at Hull City would like to thank Daniel for his efforts during his time at the KC Stadium and we wish him well for the future."