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Rodgers: We struggle without Gerrard

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has conceded his side looks considerably weakened without captain Steven Gerrard, urging the club's youngsters to learn from their talisman.

• Rodgers warns youngsters

Gerrard, 32, has scored five goals in the Premier League this season and had an obvious influence for Liverpool when he was substituted into the match during Sunday's FA Cup loss at Oldham.

Liverpool have failed to win a match in which Gerrard has only been used as a substitute this season and Rodgers believes the England international is the key to securing a spot in Europe next season.

"Steven is a unique player. At Oldham, it was like someone had dropped him from heaven because we went to a totally different level," Rodgers said. "Unfortunately, I can't say that without him we would be all right, because I don't believe we would.

"With each day that goes by, you see his real importance to the club. At 32 years of age, he still looks so fit and strong. You can see his influence on the team. As a captain, he's been phenomenal."

Gerrard's significance at Liverpool has been amplified by the drop in form of midfielder Joe Allen, with the Wales international admitting he must prove himself to Rodgers.

"In recent times I think it goes without saying it [my form] has been slightly disappointing, to be honest, but I am faithful and confident that I will turn things around on a personal level," Allen told Liverpool's official website. "It's games like Wednesday where, if I can be involved in some way, I can get my performance levels higher.

"The games against Arsenal and Manchester City earlier in the season are probably the level I am hoping to reach again and be more consistent with. There is no magic formula. I'll keep working hard and keep faithful there will be another performance like that just around the corner."

Allen scored in the 3-2 defeat to Oldham, although it was a mere consolation as Liverpool slumped to a demoralising cup exit. But the 22-year-old believes that disappointment will be reversed against Arsenal on Wednesday and when Liverpool face Manchester City on the weekend.

"It was one of those days, I think. You can't question the mentality of the players here," Allen said. "We approached the game to win it, but unfortunately for whatever reason we didn't perform the way we should - and could - have and we got punished for it.

"It's difficult when you face a disappointment like that. A club like this wants to be challenging for trophies. Obviously we got to the final last year, and so to go out in the way we did is pretty terrible, really. But we've got two big league games to look forward to, turn our focus to and turn things around."

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