Steven Gerrard is such an intelligent and gifted footballer he could operate anywhere on the field, according to his manager, Brendan Rodgers.

Gerrard has excelled in a host of positions across the park for Liverpool since making his first-team debut at the club 16 years ago.

He's tormented opponents playing in behind the striker, devastated defences from a wide-right berth, controlled from the centre - and even turned in memorable displays in the right-back role.

The 33-year-old took his career total to 171 goals on Wednesday when he arced an unstoppable free-kick beyond Vito Mannone to give Liverpool the lead against Sunderland at Anfield.

Rodgers labelled Gerrard's scoring achievements 'incredible' and pointed to his tally of 11 for the season as evidence that the skipper is still a threat operating in a more deeper role.

"I think people wondered about his position and whether it would affect him, moving back into that controlling role," Rodgers told reporters gathered at Melwood.

"But I think there are a couple of things with Steven. We've moved him back into that position and yet it hasn't stopped his goal-threat. He's scored nine goals in his last 11 Premier League games.

"He can dictate the game from behind. He's a player that I think, because of his incredible intelligence and ability, that if you give him enough time, he could play in any position on the field.

"For most of his career, he's played as an attacking player and he's been one of the world-class players.

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"To get to those numbers and almost equal someone of Kenny Dalglish's quality and status just shows you the true quality that the guy has. He's got a few more years to go yet to hopefully score more goals."

Kopites were gifted another shining example of Gerrard's leadership abilities on Wednesday, when he stepped up to break the deadlock and calm the nerves during the Reds' narrow 2-1 victory over Sunderland.

Then, as the clock ticked down in the crucial clash, with Liverpool guarding a one-goal lead, Gerrard could be heard above the din of the crowd, bellowing at his teammates to take the ball to the corner flag and guard it there.

"I think he's shown that leadership right the way through, from when I came in," said Rodgers. "He's first-class.

"You saw him the other night giving orders out to the team and telling people, which is important, because you don't have the time when you're in the changing room and you've conceded a goal. He's very short, sharp and concise with his information.

"But his qualities are continual every day. His leadership in the changing room is first-class. He's a wonderful captain and it's been a huge pleasure for me to work with someone who I've looked at from the outside.

"That I've had the pleasure of working with him, very closely over these past 18 months has been brilliant and long may it continue."