Brendan Rodgers admitted he was unaware it was the 16th anniversary of Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool debut when leaving him on the bench for the 1-0 win over Stoke.
Gerrard was left out for the first time in the Premier League under Rodgers, 16 years to the day after he made his Reds debut as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers in 1998.
And the boss admits he was unaware of the anniversary when making his decision, but insisted there was no problem with his skipper despite some reports.
“Steven is at the part of his career where he’s not going to be playing in every game and every minute of every game,” explained Rodgers. “He’s played against Crystal Palace and in Ludogorets, where he was outstanding and put a huge amount of effort into the game.
“We’ve got other players who can come in and do the job, and Steven understands that.
“I wasn’t actually aware it was 16 years until I walked into the changing rooms and saw the programme, but with Steven you wouldn’t know whether he was playing or not because he’s a guy who is very much a team player. He’s a great guy and he always plays a part in our work.
“I need to look at each game and position the players and team that I think can get the result.
“We’ve got good players on the sidelines who are fresh. Steven came on and gave a great contribution towards the end. His experience and stature in the game helped us at that point, but I the team overall was excellent.”
Rodgers was keen to highlight Gerrard’s typically professional response to learning he wouldn’t be starting the Stoke clash.
“He didn’t tell me it was his 16th anniversary,” revealed the Northern Irishman. “I felt quite bad actually when I looked at the programme. There were 20 pictures of him [on the front cover].
“He’s a wonderful man and he’s very much about the team. He understands. Of course, every player would love to play in every minute of every game, but the reality is that at this level and how competitive it is and the squad that we have here, we can’t be just relying on Steven in every single game.
“He’s been brilliant for me in my time here and he will continue to be. But we’ve talked and looked at when he can play.”