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Gerrard Targets Full Preseason Return

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A shoulder surgery that'll rule Liverpool's captain out for the season's final two matches shouldn't interfere with preparations for the 2013-2014 campaign.

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Michael Regan

One of the sillier narratives of the Premier League season gone by was the effort to get Steven Gerrard every Premier League minute possible--particularly early in the year with the captain struggling to have an influence other than negative, there simply weren't any compelling reasons to continue to have him on the pitch. The idea was nice and all, but when the execution was lacking, it primarily looked to be some imagined milestone to be met cooked up by either player or manager.

With a late-season injury (incurred not so late in the season, it turns out) forcing him out of the eleven and eventually into the operating room, it wasn't to be, and now he's facing a summer of rehab before joining up with the club on their preseason tour. He commented on both the missed opportunity to play lots of minutes for the sake of playing minutes, as well as the injury that eventually cause the remainder of his season to be shut down:

"It's disappointing but to be honest, that [playing every league game] is not a very important personal achievement - what is more important is that I am fit and available for the team. Between the medical staff and myself, we've decided the best decision is to get it done now so I am ready for pre-season training.

"I'm very disappointed to miss the last two games, but it's a stage now where it's probably better if another player plays because he'll be able to offer more because the shoulder is quite sore. I first got the injury against Oldham in the FA Cup when I came on as a sub and I've since aggravated it on numerous occasions. The medical team and staff have been brilliant - they've helped me a lot and put a lot of hard work into getting me out there onto the pitch.

"I've felt my form has been good this season. I think I got off to a slow start after the tournament [Euro 2012] but got stronger as the season went on. I've enjoyed the season, although it is disappointing to leave it empty handed."

Unfortunately ending seasons empty-handed has become the norm of late, with last season's League Cup trophy the club's only piece of semi-meaningful silverware since their dramatic FA Cup triumph in May of 2006. This season was never going to offer a legitimate title opportunity for Liverpool, and to have Gerrard fit and ready to contribute next season--which may or may not present a chance at a trophy--is as much as both he and the club could have asked for.

What'll be most interesting moving forward is how Brendan Rodgers handles the captain's role in the coming seasons, as there's a handful of young central midfielders that should be vying for time as next season gets underway. Liverpool have seemingly been better with Steven Gerrard in the squad than they have without, but as his career winds to a close, there's going to need to be a transition at some point, which may even start as early as next season.