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STEVIE SHOULD LEAD US INTO EUROS; Boss backs Gerrard to stay on as Reds skipper waits on international future.

Byline: Liverpool Reporter James Pearce

ROY HODGSON has urged Steven Gerrard to lead England into their Euro 2016 qualifiers.

The Liverpool midfielder is considering whether to quit international football in the aftermath of the nation's dismal World Cup campaign in Brazil.

Gerrard, who says he feels "broken" following back to back defeats to Italy and Uruguay, has revealed he will wait a few weeks before deciding whether to continue playing for his country. The 34-year-old requires pain-killing injections in his back and next year he will be playing Champions League football for Liverpool on top of an already gruelling domestic schedule.

But Hodgson made it clear to Gerrard on Sunday that he thinks his captain still has what it takes to play at the highest level.

"The manager has asked me to stay," Gerrard said.

Hodgson replied with a "yes" when asked if that meant he wanted Gerrard to carry on as captain too.

It may have been just a one-word answer, but that was a big vote of confidence in Gerrard from Hodgson, who still values his leadership and playing skills highly.

Still, Gerrard will not be rushed into making any snap judgements regarding his future.

He has gone through many ups and downs over the last few months. He enjoyed a superb season with Liverpool but ultimately there was heartache as his slip against Chelsea gave Manchester City the initiative in the title race.

Gerrard was proud to finally lead England into a major tournament but ultimately his accidental flick-on to clubmate Luis Suarez handed Uruguay the win in Sao Paulo.

"In my head I've got a mixture of emotions: frustration, pain," he said.

"The season for Liverpool ended badly for me and the team. I was coming out of that trying to put that to bed, trying to get some positivity back in the World Cup. This is exactly what I didn't want to happen.

"But I've faced adversity before, played through it, stayed strong. I have to try and grieve, get away with the family and away from inter national football, and then make a decision.

"It would be wrong for me to make that decision now. I need to get away for a while."

DOWN: Steven Gerrard after the defeat to Uruguay Gerrard was giving little away about what his gut feeling was on the matter.

It looks as if it will be next month before the 113-cap midfielder goes public with his decision.

"The first person who'll know is Roy. I spoke to him this morning and said I'd need at least three weeks to clear my head," Gerrard said.

"I will consider it long and hard, and speak to people who will help guide me.

"I'll put everyone before myself. I've done that all the way through. I'm able to make the decision that's best."

Hodgson confirmed after the press conference that Gerrard would start on the bench in the dead rubber against Costa Rica tomorrow, meaning Frank Lampard will captain the side in Belo Horizonte for what might be his final England appearance.

Gerrard has experienced three penalty shootout defeats with England, a humiliating defeat to Germany and he has been part of a failed qualifying European Championship campaign.

But England's early exit from this World Cup is one of the lowest points of his international career.

Gerrard was so deflated after the Uruguay game that he did not watch the Costa Rica-Italy game even though the result of that game would decide England's fate.

"I didn't watch it all," he said. "I was flicking to check the score. "The last couple of days have been grim.

"I had a tiny glimmer of hope but that made the pain even worse when the game was gone.

"It was a desperate position to be in. To me, that's not good enough - hoping on others - when you've got the talented players you've got in this squad. When you're an England player, captain, fan and you've worked so hard to get into this position, for two years to get to a World Cup, and had that belief and confidence you'd get out the group, for it to backfire over a few days... it's a tough place to be in.

"I'm not going to share blame or responsibility, so I've got to take it on the chin."

Gerrard dismissed claims from Harry Redknapp that certain England stars during his time at Tottenham tried to find ways of skipping international duty.

He claimed to have "never come across players like that" and highlighted the determination of the current crop, whom he knows owe it to the fans to get a positive result against Costa Rica.

"It is a very difficult time to be an England player at the moment," he said.

"Everyone is hurting, everyone is disappointed. "The message to the supporters is thanks for the support that they have given us, not just at the World Cup but over the last two years helping get us here.

"The players take full responsibility for not winning the two games so far. If there are people out there with strong opinions and want to point fingers and stuff, myself as the leader of this team will take full responsibility, take it on the shoulders.

"All we can do as players is stick together. We agreed before this tournament we would come in and work as hard as we can and try and fight for everything together.

"Now it has gone wrong, we have to shoulder that responsibility together. We can't allow it to just come on the manager's shoulders and coaching staff.

"We have to stand tall, be thick-skinned, take it and move on. The important thing is to think about the supporters and supporters only.

"They want a win in the last game and the players want that as well."

CAPTION(S):

DOWN: Steven Gerrard after the defeat to Uruguay

READY: England's Steven Gerrard (centre right) with team-mates

COMTEMPLATIVE MOOD: England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard during a press conference at Urca Military Training Ground, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ahead of England's final game of the World Cup against Costa Rica tomorrow
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:3URUG
Date:Jun 23, 2014
Words:1025
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