Steven Gerrard was Woods' (above) hero growing up as a Liverpool supporter
Steven Gerrard was Woods' (above) hero growing up as a Liverpool supporter
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There has been just one topic of conversation in the car on the way to training this week.

As most people will know, there is a strong Liverpudlian contingent in the Preston squad with myself, John Welsh and Jamie Jones.

Most days, we travel to work together and obviously the big topic of conversation has been Steven Gerrard’s decision to quit Liverpool for a new life in America with LA Galaxy.

John and I are boyhood Liverpool supporters who went on to be signed for the club, while Jamie is an Evertonian, who came through youth set-up at Goodison Park. It is fair to say the news of Stevie G’s departure from Anfield has caused a mini-earthquake on Merseyside.

As a fan I used to watch Gerrard on the terraces and then later when I signed for Liverpool as a youngster, I got to know him.

I am a bit gutted that he’s leaving Liverpool because he’s such a great player and a talisman for the club.

He has always been Liverpool’s top player for as long as I can remember and he’s carried the team at times.

He’s always stepped up to the mark and produced some unbelievable performances such as in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan.

It will be weird to see him wearing the colours of another club.

But I am sure he will go to LA Galaxy and enjoy himself there. I expect he will do well in America and it will be a great experience for him.

I would not say I know him too well but I would speak to him when I was at Liverpool every now and then.

My girlfriend’s family know some of his family – it’s quite a small world in Liverpool.

I never quite got to play with Gerrard as I was released by Liverpool at the age of 19 without making a first-team appearance.

I joined the club at the age of nine and being at the club was all I ever knew growing up.

It was an unbelievable experience to grow up playing for such as massive club and be part of their youth set-up and, later, the reserve team.

Players who I played alongside in those days were people like Danny Guthrie, who went on play for Newcastle and is now at Reading, and Lee Peltier, who plays for Huddersfield.

There was a good squad of players at my age group but it was difficult for us all to make an impression in the first team at Anfield.

I think Danny played a few games in the first XI but I never managed to get selected by Rafa Benitez, who was the manager of Liverpool back then.

It was disappointing that I never managed to make an appearance, but you get to a stage in your career where you have to move and look for 
first-team football.

At the time, Rafa was bringing in a lot of Spanish and French players.

Liverpool is a massive club and can attract players from all around the world so my opportunities were always going to be limited.

Benitez did not have too much to do with the reserve-team players but we would sometimes be invited to train with the first team.

That would be great experience – training alongside players such as Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Pepe Reina.

But I got the chance to go to Dunfermline at the age of 19 and that was a great chance for me to play first-team football and I loved it up there. I ended up staying there for five years before I came back down south to Huddersfield, initially, and now here at Preston.

I have to admit it has been a frustrating time for me since signing for North End during the summer. The manager Simon Grayson gave me the nod at right-back for the first game of the season against Notts County and from there I figured quite regularly.

Unfortunately, I suffered a hamstring pull after coming on as a late sub in the win over Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena.

That kept me out for four weeks but I was on the way back ahead of schedule until on the first day back of training, I felt a twinge in my calf.

The calf problem ended up keeping me out for longer than the initial hamstring injury, which was really frustrating.

There’s nothing worse than being injured as a footballer – you just want to be out there training with the lads and playing games.

Thankfully, I am now back to full fitness and made my long-awaited comeback on Boxing Day against Barnsley in the 1-0 win.

The boss decided not to risk me in the next game just a couple of days later against Crewe. Bbut I was back in the side for the win over Norwich in the FA Cup last Saturday.

The manager is fortunate that we have such a strong squad and he can rotate the team. Myself and Scott Wiseman are having a good battle to see who gets the right-back shirt at the minute.

Obviously now that I’m back to full fitness, I will be pushing hard to get back in the side on a regular basis.

I have played 13 times this season and in those games, we have only lost once – away to Walsall. Maybe I should knock on the manager’s door and tell him I’m his lucky charm!