Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has spoken of his respect for Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers ahead of Sunday’s midlands derby between the two clubs.
Gerrard played under Rodgers at Liverpool between 2012 and 2015, almost winning the Premier League together in 2014 before blowing a five-point lead at the top of the table with only three matches remaining.
The pair crossed paths again in Scotland, this time as opposing managers, where they were in charge of the Old Firm clubs.
Rodgers won back-to-back domestic trebles during his two full seasons at Celtic, where he faced Gerrard’s Rangers team on two occasions. Each recorded a 1-0 win during that 2018-19 season, Gerrard’s first in management, before Rodgers left for Leicester shortly afterwards.
Last season, Gerrard delivered Rangers’ first Scottish Premiership title for a decade, in the process preventing Celtic from winning an historic 10 in a row.
The former Liverpool captain, 41, revealed he has learned a lot from Rodgers over the years.
“Brendan is a top coach,” said Gerrard. “He came in at Liverpool at a time when we needed someone like him in terms of a modern coach who was going to take us forward, but also play some attractive football.
“I think the biggest thing was his delivery on the training pitch. You could see quite clearly that he had got a lot of experience and he was a good manager to play for in terms of a personal relationship.
“It would have been very naive from my point of view not to try and learn as much as I can and what I could from Brendan, and I continued to do it even when we never worked together because obviously I came up against him in Scotland and I have seen how well he has done in the Premier League, which is certainly no surprise to me.
“He is one of many managers who I watch closely and, in my position, when you are new and starting out and trying to gain that experience then they are the type of people you try to learn from.
“There is a mutual respect there. He always helped me as a player and I’ll always remember that, but once the whistle goes, we’ll be ready to compete for the points.”
Meanwhile, Villa have been dealt an injury blow with the news that Leon Bailey will be out for “a number of weeks”.
The 24-year-old forward, signed from Bayer Leverkusen this summer for a reported fee of £30million by former manager Dean Smith, hobbled off with what looked like a thigh problem after half an hour of the 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday night.
“Unfortunately for Leon he has had a scan and that has confirmed there is a muscle injury in the quad area,” said Gerrard.
“It’s going to be quite a long one, so he’s going to be missing for a number of weeks. It is difficult to put a date on it right now, but we won’t be seeing him before Christmas.”
An unspecified injury has kept Danny Ings out recently, but the striker is nearing a return and a decision will be made on his fitness on Saturday.
The Villa boss added: “Danny is one we are working closely with and we will give him every chance and I will make a decision on him tomorrow.”