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Gerrard 'integral' to Rodgers' plans

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers confirmed club captain Steven Gerrard remains an 'integral' part of his plans to move the Reds towards the top of the Premier League.

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Gerrard sat out the final few games of the Reds' campaign last season to undergo shoulder surgery, but is expected to return fighting fit for the start of the 2013/14 season.

And Rodgers insisted the Anfield legend's importance to the club was as vital as it had ever been.

"He's 33 now but Steven is still an integral part of what I'm trying to do here and will be for the next few years," Rodgers told Sky Sports.

"He had his operation towards the end of the season and the plan was for him to continue his rehab over the off-season.

"It's a big credit to him - he's worked tirelessly over the summer. He won't be too far away. He looks great and is in great condition."

However, Rodgers was forced to replace another cornerstone of the team after Jamie Carragher retired last season.

But the former Swansea boss believes he has found the perfect player in new recruit Kolo Toure.

"Losing someone like Jamie Carragher was going to leave a massive hole for us in terms of his experience," Rodgers added.

"Kolo's experience is going to be really important for us - but not just that. He's someone with a winning mentality.

"There weren't too many available who were better than Kolo Toure. He's played with big clubs, he understands what a winning mentality is about. He's a good man as well - he knows what the culture is like at a big club."

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