Gerrard to miss final two games
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is to have an operation on his left shoulder which will rule him out of the rest of the season.
The England skipper will also miss the national team’s two friendlies against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29 and Brazil on June 2.
Gerrard will go under the knife later this week and is expected to return in time for Liverpool’s pre-season programme.
Gerrard, 33 later this month, has had his best season fitness-wise and his appearance in 220th Merseyside derby was his 36th consecutive Premier League start – equalling his previous longest run set between April 2006 and April 2007.
He has played with the shoulder injury for several months but after an early collision with Everton midfielder Leon Osman on Sunday he looked in obvious discomfort.
However, it did not prevent him completing 90 minutes – Gerrard has missed only 17 minutes of the league season after being forced off against Newcastle just over a week ago after feeling some pain in the shoulder – and putting in another impressive performance.
But with little to play for in their remaining two matches at Fulham and QPR Liverpool have decided it makes more sense for Gerrard to have an operation now to give him an additional couple of weeks’ rehabilitation.
"Liverpool have confirmed Steven Gerrard will undergo surgery on a recurrent shoulder problem this week," said a statement from Liverpool.
"The captain’s injury has progressively worsened in recent weeks and requires an operation to cure it.
"Gerrard will now miss the final two games of 2012-13, but he is expected to be fit for the start of pre-season training this summer."
Meanwhile, Reds defender Jose Enrique believes Jamie Carragher’s achievements at Liverpool will stand the test of time but hopes the void he leaves will be filled by a rejuvenated Martin Skrtel.
The veteran centre-back has just two matches remaining of his 16-year professional career before he bows out, fittingly at Anfield, against QPR on May 19.
Liverpool are planning a tribute to the long-serving 35-year-old, who has racked up 735 appearances, at that match.
Details are expected to be revealed later this week but it is likely one way of recognising the service to his only professional club will be with a mosaic on the Kop, as they did for Sami Hyypia’s final match in 2009.
Carragher’s departure has led to plenty of speculation about who will be brought in as a replacement, with Swansea’s Ashley Williams and Ajax’s Toby Alderweireld strongly linked, but Enrique insists the answer lies within – providing Skrtel can be persuaded to stay.
"Carra is the type of player who wants to play all the time," Enrique told Press Association Sport.
"You cannot say anything about a player who has played more than 700 times.
"And I know it has been a difficult year for Skrtel because he has not been playing as much but last year he was the best centre-back and this year he is the worst.
"But I train with Martin every day and he is a top centre-back. For me Danny (Agger) and Martin are the best centre-back partnership in the Premier League.
"You can have one year good, one year bad. It happened to me.
"The players who play in the Premier League are there because they have quality and confidence.
"It is all about confidence. Martin is an incredible lad and a top player."
One player not short of confidence at the moment is midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who has picked up his second succesive player of the month award since arriving in January.
The 20-year-old had his best game for the club in the 6-0 demolition of Newcastle just over a week ago but the Brazilian insists there is a lot more to come from him.
"Taking into account the voting is done by the supporters, that gives me more confidence on the pitch," he told liverpoolfc.com.
"I have to thank my team-mates and the supporters for their support and I hope to contribute with my performances.
"I have been working very hard to be able to adapt very quickly and I think everything is working out very well.
"I thank God and my team-mates for making me feel so welcome and for helping me a lot on the pitch.
"I have to improve a lot and learn much more in our training sessions.
"I like to play football, I like to enjoy myself while playing. I play in any position, I have no preference but it all depends on the manager.
"My duty is to do what he asks from me."