Rodgers defends Anfield skipper Gerrard in wake of growing swipes

Ross McLean
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DEFIANT Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insists his continued selection of skipper Steven Gerrard is based purely on merit as the Reds prepare for their crunch Champions League clash with surprise package Ludogorets Razgrad tonight.

Liverpool face European elimination should they fail to end a dismal four-match losing streak and secure maximum points against the Bulgarian champions, and Basel win or draw against runaway group-winners Real Madrid in Switzerland.

A victory for the Merseyside club would set-up a blockbuster Anfield night against Basel next month, reminiscent of past Champions League nights at Anfield to which Gerrard was pivotal to the script.

The 34-year-old was relegated to the bench for Liverpool’s defeat against Real in the Santiago Bernabeu last time out on the continent and is not guaranteed his place against Ludogorets after Rodgers reiterated the need to manage his workload.

“I judge Steven on merit,” said Rodgers. “I don’t deal so much in being sentimental. There is nothing sentimental in me picking Steven Gerrard. If people are expecting him to be the type of player he was 10 years ago that is sadly not the case. It’s hugely unfair he is judged at that level.”