Steven Gerrard's Liverpool return buoys Kenny Dalglish

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at the Amex Stadium
Steven Gerrard
Gerrard, left, re-assumed the captaincy on his return to the side after injury

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish said it was "fantastic" to welcome back Steven Gerrard for Wednesday's Carling Cup win at Brighton - but insisted his comeback must be carefully managed.

The captain played 16 minutes of the 2-1 win after six months out with a groin injury that required surgery.

Dalglish said: "It was fantastic for everyone connected to the club to see Steven back.

"But we will manage the situation as diligently, as we have done so far."

He added: "We need to be careful and we won't get carried away.

"We're more pleased for Steven than anything else. He's worked really hard and had a few disappointments along the way, so to get 20 minutes or so will give him a real lift.

"Steven coming back certainly makes our squad a whole lot stronger.

"We said we were happy with the business we had done in the summer and having Steven back is like getting a new signing.

"For us it's a real, real addition to the squad. To get your talisman back on the right road is, selfishly, great for us but more importantly is great for Steven."

The 31-year-old England midfielder's return added to Dalglish's delight as goals from Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt sent Liverpool into the fourth round draw at the expense of Gus Poyet's Championship side.

Dalglish singled out the performance of Bellamy on his first start since returning to Liverpool on a free transfer from Manchester City, opening the scoring early on and linking impressively with Luis Suarez.

"Craig was fantastic," said Dalglish. "When he came in, we said he would make a contribution and it has not taken him long.

"He is really enthusiastic and fit. He loves the club and is a supporter, which sometimes sounds a bit sickly, but he is and wants to do the best he can for them."

And Dalglish's pleasure was completed by Liverpool's reaction to the 4-0 loss at Tottenham on Sunday.

He said: "The first-half performance was fantastic from the players. The way they responded to the disappointment everybody shared on Sunday was a great credit to the football club."

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