Gerrard: Best Liverpool squad I've seen

Gerrard said: "This is the first time in my Anfield career that I see genuine competition for every place in the team."

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With manager Rafa Benitez insisting Gerrard needs up to 10 days rest following the Chelsea match to allow his toe to heal, the 27-year-old could miss the Stadium of Light clash.

But Benitez has plenty of midfield cover now and did not need to use Javier Mascherano from the bench against Chelsea, and failed to even include Yossi Benayoun and Mohamed Sissoko in the squad.

Gerrard said: "There are at least two, even three, players battling for every starting jersey and that can only be good for everyone.

"You have to play well to keep a place and there are no guarantees at all for the starting eleven each week."

With £40million of new summer talent in the squad now, Gerrard added: "We have made a positive start to the new campaign and the new boys have made a positive contribution to our success.

"They are still getting to grips with the intricacies of English football and the systems and patterns the manager prefers here, but it is a big bonus for us that they have all hit the ground running.

"That is the thing this season, no-one in the dressing room can presume they are an automatic pick because there is so much quality right through the team.

"We have sent a loud message to the rest of the league that we will be serious contenders this season, but that is all it does. Nothing is won in August."

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