Gerrard's best in central midfield urges Crouch

November 23, 2006

LIVERPOOL, England, Nov 23 (Reuters) - The debate over Steven Gerrard's best position for Liverpool has lasted all season, but as far as his team mate Peter Crouch is concerned, the matter should now be closed.

Crouch, who along with Gerrard, was on target for Liverpool in the 2-0 victory over PSV Eindhoven that secured top spot in Group C for Rafael Benitez's team, believes Gerrard should play in the centre of midfield, and not wide on the right.

Gerrard scored 23 goals from the flank last season, and by this time last year had scored 10 goals from 19 matches.

His opening goal for Liverpool on Wednesday was only his second in 20 matches during this campaign, but he had an excellent match on Wednesday and looks set to continue in the central role because Liverpool are bereft in that position.

With Mohamad Sissoko already out injured, Liverpool picked up three more injuries on Wednesday with Xabi Alnoso receiving a dead leg and Mark Gonzalez and Jermaine Pennant damaging hamstrings.

Crouch believes Gerrard has more influence driving Liverpool onward from a more central role and hopes he continues playing there.

'He is a driving force and when he makes his runs from midfield he's a class act,' Crouch said afterwards.

'When he is in the middle he likes to join in more. When he is out wide he can be isolated a touch, but when he is in the middle he likes to get in amongst it and play balls off me.

'I think he is more comfortable playing in the middle but if he plays out on the right he can still be the best player on the pitch.

'Now with Xabi getting injured and Momo Sissoko being out I'm sure he will get more chances in his favoured role, but wherever the manager wants to play him I'm sure he will do well.'

Gerrard's goal was only his second of the season, having also scored against Girondins Bordeaux in the Champions League on Oct.31. His last domestic goals came in the FA Cup final against West Ham last May.

'He's a top player and it was only a matter of time before be started scoring again' Crouch added.

Liverpool's bid to move up the Premier League table from their current 10th position now depends more on Gerrard dominating midfield than it might have done before.

Alonso and Pennant are both likely to miss the match with Manchester City on Saturday while Gonzalez is out for three weeks with his hamstring tear.

Gerrard, playing in central midfield and scoring regularly again, could make light of those absences. Crouch might like to see him there permanently, but of course, Benitez picks the team and he will have the final say.