Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes Steven Gerrard will hang up his international boots after England’s trip to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The 33-year-old skipper, who is set to lead the nation into battle against Chile and Germany this month, is likely to pass the captaincy on once England’s South American exploits are complete.
Rodgers, the player’s manager at club level, suggests it’s time for Gerrard to receive greater rest, per James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo:
For Steven, he probably looks at it as though this is his last international year and after the World Cup that will be all finished then and he will have lots of time to rest.
Obviously he and Roy (Hodgson) have a good relationship and I’m sure if he needs that breather in these two games, he will get that.
Gerrard recently racked up his 107th cap for England—surpassing Bobby Charlton’s total number of appearances, per Tim Simon of the Mirror—and has consistently worn the Three Lions shirt since his international debut against Ukraine in 2000.
Among his career highlights is a stunning long-distance goal during England’s 5-1 win over Germany in 2001, as well as the recent strike against Poland that confirmed England's place in Brazil.
He was the country’s top scorer at Euro 2004 and also made UEFA’s Team of the Tournament for a handful of excellent displays at the 2010 World Cup.
Rodgers understands Hodgson will be looking to his experienced player across the next year but may want to rest his midfielder during the upcoming Wembley dates: Per Liverpool Echo Rodgers said:
I think it is something that Roy has looked at for these games but Steven is a real talisman. He is a leader for the team and everyone there. Whether he plays in the two friendlies or not is another matter.
There are absolutely times when you can rest him and I think that is important for him.
Gerrard is at a stage in his career where fitness and health need to be protected, much like we’ve seen with Ryan Giggs at Manchester United.
The Liverpool captain has dramatically adapted his game over the last couple of seasons, limiting the amount of limb-busting runs forward to produce a more thoughtful, controlled game.
He continues to dictate a Reds midfield that is made up of youthful talent, a contrast that is serving Rodgers well right now.
It makes perfect sense for Gerrard to call time after Brazil. There is little point him beginning the long road to the next World Cup, especially as he will be 37 years of age when the Russian tournament arrives.
Hodgson intends to focus on youth—as noted by the continued presence of Ross Barkley in his squad—so Gerrard’s retirement will finally give England’s young midfield stars a chance to step up.