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Clarke eyes Gerrard boost

Liverpool first-team coach Steve Clarke has hailed captain Steven Gerrard as "one of the most complete footballers of his generation" and feels his return to full fitness will be a major boost next season.

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Liverpool enjoyed a resurgence in 2011 after Kenny Dalglish and Clarke arrived at the club, but they had to do without Gerrard as injuries restricted him to just six starts.

"He's vitally important," Clarke told the club's official website. "Steven hasn't featured much since I came to the club. He's been in and out with a niggling problem with his groin, and hopefully the operation has cured it. A fit and fully firing Steven Gerrard can only improve the squad.

"He's certainly one of the most complete footballers of his generation. Over the last ten or 12 years, there have been a number of really top English players and certainly Steven is one of them.

"I've only seen little glimpses of him since I came here but he's a captain who, rather than speaking and motivating, leads by example on the pitch. I am looking forward to seeing him do that next season."

Gerrard has said he feels like he has a "new groin" after undergoing surgery and Clarke added: "If he's speaking encouragingly about it himself then that's good news for everybody. I'm sure he'll work hard during the summer, and if he can join us in the first stage of pre-season then that would be great. If not then he'll join us a little bit later."

Liverpool are understood to be keen to enhance their midfield options for next season, with Sunderland's Jordan Henderson seemingly their key target. Amid talk of a £15 million bid for the 20-year-old England international, sources at Sunderland have indicated that their £20 million valuation must be met if a move is to be agreed.

The Sunderland Echo also reports that the Black Cats have "categorically denied" that they have received a £10 million bid from Liverpool for defensive midfielder Lee Cattermole.

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