Joe Allen: Gerrard is "Inspiring"

Mike Hewitt

Sidelined by injury, Joe Allen has spent his time growing a beard and demonstrating the fine art of being interviewed without saying anything questionable or rage-inducing.

In the swirling turmoil of the still not open transfer window, being trapped on the injury list offers an almost zen-like tranquility where no attention is paid nor rumours abound about said list's occupants. Joe Allen's shoulder injury has forced him into a low profile since the end of March, but Liverpool's upcoming summer tour of the Pacific Rim has provided the suddenly hirsute midfielder with an opportunity to edge back into the limelight as he continues to recuperate.

Speaking to the club's Indonesian Facebook page, Allen unsurprisingly spoke of his admiration for Steven Gerrard and how the captain has helped the Welshman's game during his first, somewhat rocky season at Anfield.

"Having the chance to play alongside someone like him is inspiring," Allen praised. "The level of talent and ability, but also professionalism he brings is first-class and that's why he's one of the best players in the world.

"When I first signed here, he made a great effort to make me feel welcome and settle in - that says all about him as a person. He wants to help a lot of the younger players especially; we can all learn so much from him. Off the pitch, he's a great influence. He's our leader, he's our captain. When you see him play and you're playing alongside him, it helps to lift you that extra little bit."

Allen's benign and non-controversial answers would usually be considered unremarkable if not for the fact that in comparison to some of the other things happening around the club at the moment, his responses might actually be a soothing balm on a fandom feeling slightly burned by other not so uncontroversial figures at the club.

In the midst of what hopes to be a productive transfer window, Allen's comments also draw into sharp relief the continuing importance of Steven Gerrard's contributions to the team, especially in the context of the club's infatuation with youth products. The captain's improved fitness levels were a top talking point about him last season, and will continue to be key in keeping him on the pitch and helping to shape the squad Rodgers looks to add to this summer.

With much more business yet to be done this window, Allen's place in the side when he returns to full fitness is not necessarily guaranteed, but with there being more pressing concerns in other areas of the team he may have fewer problems than some finding his way back into the starting eleven come August.

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