Liverpool, Steven Gerrard
Gerrard is closer than ever to making a start for Liverpool again. REUTERS

Kenny Dalglish has revealed that Steven Gerrard is closer than ever to being fully fit, but the manager insists that the skipper will not be rushed back into action, no matter how desperately Liverpool need him on the pitch.

After almost 12 months out of action, Gerrard is finally in contention for the Reds again, and the midfielder featured for just over half an hour as they lost to Manchester City 3-0 this week.

Liverpool have suffered a bunch of lacklustre results lately, with draws to Wigan and Blackburn and a loss to Fulham. The defeat at the hand of City was equally difficult, with the club now sixth in the Premier League table and a game shy of fourth placed Chelsea.

And while Gerrard is desperate to get back into the mix in Liverpool's starting line-up, Dalglish is still being particularly careful with the England star as he recovers from a second injury within a year.

"Stevie is improving his level of fitness all the time but we have to be very careful as to how he prepares," Dalglish told the official Liverpool website.

"It would be wrong of us to be negligent and throw him in and undo all the good work he has done so far.

"We would love to have him back fit and well but we just have to be a bit patient."

Gerrard's return would be a big confidence boost for Liverpool as well as a physical one, and even members of the squad who would be competing with the 31 year old for a spot are hoping that he comes back into the fold as soon as possible.

Henderson will struggle harder for a place upon Gerrard's return, but the youngster couldn't be happier that the inspiring player is back on the pitch, telling reporters yesterday: "There are some great players here who I try to learn from and Stevie is one of them.

"Of course I have to learn from players like that, but I have to concentrate on my own game and keep improving and hopefully Stevie will help me do that.

"I don't have to speak for how good he is; he is an outstanding player and everyone can see that on the pitch."