Jamie Carragher insists Steven Gerrard remains a vital member of the Liverpool team but must continue to be rested if they are to get the best from him this season.
The 34-year-old was named on the bench by Brendan Rodgers for the clash with Stoke on the 16th anniversary of his Liverpool debut, with the Liverpool boss later explaining that he can’t use his captain in every game.
The manager was vindicated after Gerrard, who came on as a 75th minute substitute, helped his team secure a 1-0 victory to halt a run of three successive Premier League defeats and Carragher believes the Englishman, who has been offered a new deal at Anfield, is a vital part of the team and can continue to play his part from the bench.
“There’s going to be times when Gerrard has to come off the bench,” said the Sky Sports pundit.
“It was 0-0 when he came on and he wasn’t involved in the goal but he can make an impact from the bench. The manager can’t expect a player of that age, no matter his quality or what he’s done before, to play 90 minutes every single week, three times a week.
“He’s still a massive part of the team, never mind the squad. He is a vital part of the best team Liverpool put out but he can’t play every week. That’s just nonsensical.”
Gerrard, whose current contract expires at the end of the season, remains firmly in Liverpool’s plans with the club confirming they have offered him a contract extension.
Carragher has backed the decision to rest him, saying the club must manage his schedule carefully if his former team-mate is to continue making an impact at the top level.
He added: “Before yesterday he played more minutes than any outfield player for Liverpool. For a 34-year-old on the back of a World Cup it’s probably not right, so at some stage he was going to come out the team.
“They’ve got Leicester midweek as well and there’ll be another game the week after and then they’ve got the Basel game as well. He can’t play every game.”