Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers backs captain Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has the backing of manager Brendan Rodgers before Champions League tie with Ludogorets

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says skipper Steven Gerrard is the best player he has worked with.

Gerrard, 34, who retired from England duty this summer, has been criticised for his performancesexternal-link this season.

Liverpool have lost four consecutive games, are 12th in the Premier League and are struggling to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League.

But Rodgers said: "Gerrard is still a wonderful player. The best I have worked with."

Liverpool visit Ludogorets Razgrad on Wednesday, and if they fail to win they will be eliminated if Basel were to beat Real Madrid, who have already qualified for the last 16.

Steven Gerrard
Born: 30 May, 1980 in Whiston
Liverpool debut: 29 November, 1998 against Blackburn Rovers
Total appearances: 685 (third on the all-time list for Liverpool)
Total goals: 176 (sixth on the all-time list for Liverpool)

Reds' striker Rickie Lambert says some of the recent criticism of Gerrard has been "shocking".

But Rodgers is adamant the veteran midfielder is not being picked on reputation alone.

"I don't deal on sentiment," he said. "I see Steven every day.

"I judge what he does on the training field and he is like clockwork.

"He is easy to manage because he is a top-class professional and does what is in the best interest of Liverpool."