Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes he is in better shape than ever as he prepares to make his return to the training pitch.
Gerrard is close to a return to action having missed out on playing for club or country since March following surgery on a groin injury.
His absence has fuelled speculation and raised questions over whether the 31 year old will ever be able recapture his top form but Gerrard, speaking to the Liverpool Echo, was quick to dispel fears over his future.
“I’m in good shape and feel better than ever. My body weight, fat levels and upper body strength are all good,”
“My groin has been fixed and is as strong as ever. What I’ve done over the past four weeks tells me that’s the case and I’ve got total confidence in it.
“But it will take time for people to see me out playing again and playing well for them to believe what I’m saying in this interview.”
He added: “To be honest it gets to the stage with me that if there are no rumours about my private life or my football it’s not normal.
“I’m used to it all. I’ve heard the whispers – Gerrard is finished and he’s not going to be the player he was.
“I can’t worry or concentrate too much on what fans or people in the press are whispering to themselves. I can’t control all that. If people believe that’s the case then they will be in for a surprise.
“Hearing stuff like that doesn’t give me any extra motivation. The motivation for me is to captain this team to a successful season. I’m looking to come in, strengthen the squad and push on with the lads to hopefully have a good year.”
In a separate interview on Liverpool’s official website, Gerrard confirmed that he is hoping to ready for the clash with Tottenham in a fortnight’s time: “I feel really good and I’m back kicking balls again – it’s all positive.
“I should be back in full training with the team on Thursday or Friday of next week.
“I won’t be involved against Stoke next Saturday but my plan is to hopefully be involved in the game against Tottenham. It will be Kenny’s decision when I come back in.”
Gerrard added: “At the moment it’s all good and I’m itching to get back. In fact it’s worse than itching, my stomach is turning.
“It’s been a tough five months for me since I had the surgery. It’s been up and down emotionally and I’ve missed playing so much.
“I’ve had a good rest, I’m fired up and I’m raring to go again. I know I’m going to come back fitter, stronger and hungrier than ever.”
Gerrard had initially hoped to be available for the beginning of the new season however a setback in July has meant a longer than anticipated spell on the sidelines
He said: “Since coming out of hospital my rehab has gone really well. I’m really happy and positive again. My groin is as strong as it’s ever been.
“My groin is tested when I’m working and the physios collect data. My groin scores now are better than before I even started feeling my groin.
“What I’ve done over the past four weeks tells me that’s the case and I’ve got total confidence in it.”