Irish Daily Mirror - - SPORTS - BY CHRIS BEECH

Tom 3pm

STEVEN GER­RARD ad­mits some of his play­ers are pressed up against the pain bar­rier.

The Gers have clocked up 26 matches al­ready this sea­son in a gru­elling open­ing to the cam­paign at home and on the con­ti­nent.

Hop­ping back from Rus­sia in the early hours of yes­ter­day has be­come so much the norm it barely raised a bleary eye­brow. But Ger­rard is con­cerned the work­load might be tak­ing its toll on play­ers who have crammed pre­vi­ously an en­tire sea­son’s worth of games into barely five months.

Guys such as Con­nor Gold­son (above), who have turned out in all but one game this term, hav­ing played just 18 times in the two pre­vi­ous cam­paigns com­bined.

Ger­rard said: “That’s the case for a lot of these play­ers. This is the squad we have put to­gether. This is the rea­son the play­ers have come to play as many games as they can – be­cause they’ve been frus­trated at other clubs or they haven’t been able to get a break­through.

“Con­nor is con­stantly in my face say­ing, ‘Don’t give me a rest, don’t give me a rest, don’t give me a rest’. But there will be a time when I’ve got to help him. He won’t like that but it’s my job.

“In terms of a lot of our play­ers, all these ex­pe­ri­ences are new.”

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