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Sorcery or Science: the Secret of Steven Gerrard's Fitness Success

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While blind faith in his groin may have kept him going in previous seasons, Steven Gerrard has a few more tools at his disposal this year to ensure lack of fitness doesn't keep him out of the line-up.

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Alex Livesey

First things first: knock on wood.

Steven Gerrard has played every single minute of this season's league campaign. Thirty games, or 2700 minutes, give or take extra time. With eight games left, Gerrard is on pace to top his current career high number of league games played — thirty-six in 2006-07 — all at the ripe old age of thirty-two. After spending the two previous seasons injury-plagued and finding himself on the sidelines more often than not, Gerrard seems to have settled into a physical equilibrium that has him fit and playing as one of the team's top performers.

The cause for Gerrard's improved fitness is not an age-old solution like horse placenta, injections of cockerel crest, or run-of-the-mill medieval sorcery; instead, the captain is reaping the rewards of changes made to the medical and sports science team, where assessments of players as individuals and custom training plans tailored to match have allowed him to avoid injury this year.

"Some of our players, the likes of Steven Gerrard, have played the most amount of consecutive games they ever have," said Brendan Rodgers. "His performance level, alongside a lot of the others, has been outstanding this year. It gives me great hope and hopefully it continues.

"We've looked at every player, not just Steven. When I came in here it was about getting a commitment. It wasn't about motivation from the players, it was about commitment to the cause and what we're trying to do. What we promised the players was that once they committed, there would be a plan in place for each individual in order for him to play at his maximum. Steven has benefited from that.

"For Steven, it's about the right moments of recovery and rest. The biggest thing is him — he wants to learn, improve and be better. He has trust in how we work and that's critical."

Elsewhere in the squad, some players are also reaping the benefits of these personal performance plans — Daniel Agger is on a personal best number of appearances in the league this year — while others, like Joe Allen, are so unfit that it calls into question how closely players are actually being monitored if they've been allowed to play this long with injuries that require surgical correction. For the Stevie, at least, there has been an obvious net benefit and his sustained fitness gives greater weight to his previously declared hope that he'll be able to keep playing for several more seasons yet.

But knock on wood.