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Nov 13, 2012

Souness praises Gerrard contribution

Graeme Souness believes Steven Gerrard has been England's most influential player over the last decade.

After coming through a scan on a knee injury on Monday, Gerrard is due to make his 100th international appearance in Wednesday's friendly against Sweden and former Liverpool captain Souness believes the 32-year-old might be the finest English player of his generation.

Asked if he was among the best, the former Scotland midfielder said: "If not the best. I'm trying to think over the last ten years... I'd have him as number one.

"Frank Lampard is a great midfield player and scorer of goals but I think Steven has the edge on him - then you start to compare him with strikers. John Terry has been a great player for England but you can't compare a midfield player and a centre-back.

"You say best but I think the question you have to ask is 'Biggest influence on the team?' I'd say that Steven Gerrard has had the biggest influence on the England team in the last ten years."

Souness played for Liverpool during their golden era, winning European Cups in 1978, 1981 and 1984, but he has no doubt that Gerrard would have been worthy of a place in those sides.

"He would get in any team that Liverpool have had that I know of," he said at a Hall of Fame event at Hampden Park. "He certainly would have got in the team when we played, when we were dominating the game. For the best part of ten years, he has been Mr Liverpool. He has carried a team through some sticky points.

"From a European Cup final in Istanbul to games where they have been drifting, where the game has maybe been going away from them, he has done something magical, scored a goal or created something. He has been the outstanding performer at Liverpool in the last ten years by a country mile."

Gerrard has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and Souness believes the player has changed as a result.

"I look at him this year and I think he has modified his game," he said. "I think he is less explosive and he's more of a proper central midfield player now. It's not to say he has gone backwards as a player but when you get a bit older you haven't got those same energy levels and he has adapted his game.

"Because he's such a wonderful passer of the ball I feel a newer role would help him and providing he can avoid injury, he could play like that for another three years, no problem."

Souness refused to be drawn on whether Gerrard had now surpassed Kenny Dalglish as the club's greatest ever player.

"It's not a comparison I could make," he said. "Kenny would be the first to tell you he played in a better team than Steven Gerrard has ever played in at Liverpool and Kenny was surrounded by better players than Steven Gerrard has been surrounded by in his time at Liverpool."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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