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Hazard back in training with Chelsea

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Transfer Rater: Wilfried Bony to Swansea

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 By Mike Whalley

Gerrard may return against Hull

Steven Gerrard is in contention to make an early return from a hamstring injury when Liverpool host Hull in the Premier League on New Year’s Day.

Usher: Reds endure tough calls

The England captain, 33, was expected to be out for six weeks after limping off during the 4-1 win over West Ham on Dec. 7.

But he has returned to full training ahead of schedule, and manager Brendan Rodgers is considering whether to play him as Liverpool bid to recover from back-to-back defeats at Manchester City and Chelsea.

“Steven has joined training, and we will see how he is for Hull,” Rodgers said on Monday. “We will assess it over the next 24 hours.”

Gerrard’s imminent return is a major boost for Rodgers, who is struggling to raise an 18-man matchday squad after seeing a number of players struck down by injury.

Midfielder Joe Allen has joined the casualty list after aggravating a hip problem at Chelsea.

“Joe will be a few weeks with an adductor strain,” said Rodgers, who added that he was still waiting for confirmation on the seriousness of defender Mamadou Sakho’s hamstring strain.

Striker Daniel Sturridge remains out with an ankle problem and full-back Jon Flanagan has a hamstring injury, but both are in contention to return for the Premier League trip to Stoke on Jan. 12.

Left-back Jose Enrique will be out until next month as he recovers from knee surgery, but on-loan Chelsea winger Victor Moses will be able to return, having been ineligible to face his parent club on Sunday.

And midfielder Jordan Henderson is set to play despite struggling with ankle trouble against Chelsea.

“He’s a real soldier Jordan, so he should be fit,” Rodgers said.

Asked about his squad’s recent run of injuries, the manager added: “It’s just been unfortunate. The medical team -- aligned with our training philosophy -- have ensured the players have been fit for the majority of the time I’ve been here.

“It’s just really in this last period of four or five weeks, which have unfortunately dealt us a big blow.”

A shortage of players meant Rodgers gave a debut to left-back Brad Smith, 19, as a second-half substitute against Chelsea, while 16-year-old midfielder Jordan Rossiter was also on the bench.

“Jordan’s only come into the club full-time this season,” Rodgers said. “He’s a tough boy with a good mindset, and we hope over the coming years he can develop. His experience yesterday will be a good reference point for him.

“Brad’s a full-back who has the capacity to compete at that level. He’s quick, strong and powerful, and that’s the type of player we need.

“They have been up training with me, as has Jack Dunn, who is another young player with promise. They’ve got some experience with the squad now, but obviously to compete at the top level, you need more than that.”

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