LIVERPOOL manager Kenny Dalglish has backed Reds captain Steven Gerrard to lead the team for years to come.
The England midfielder, who made his Liverpool debut in 1998 and skippered the club to Champions League glory in 2005, is set to complete his full return from groin surgery in tomorrow's Premier League clash with old rivals Manchester United after being eased back in from the substitutes' bench recently.
The 31-year-old's current contract expires in 2013 but Dalglish believes the Anfield icon, like 33-year-old team-mate Jamie Carragher, can carry on well beyond that.
"I haven't a crystal ball, I don't know how long he (Gerrard) has left, how long it will be," Dalglish said.
"Maybe once he gets back into the swing of things he will have a better idea himself.
"Whatever he wants to do we will go along with and for me both him and Carra are fantastic examples.
"Both of them are two people who everybody else can look up to.
"Carra and Steven have been fantastic for this football club whether they are playing or not playing.
"Anybody who is an asset to the football club I am sure we will look forward to keeping."
Director of football Damien Comolli oversees player contracts at Anfield and manager Dalglish sees no reason why age should be a factor in new deals.
"I got a long contract when I was 33 which I couldn't believe," said the Scot. "For me it doesn't matter about age. I am not rigid.
"If I was asked how long someone's contract should be I do not have any hard and fast rules.
"Everyone is different."
Dalglish also dismissed the suggestion Gerrard may need to curb his all-action style.
"He's not on a Zimmer," he said.
"He's probably fitter now than he was before.
"He's still going to be charging forward.
"Steven won't change."