Friday, February 20, 2009

Gerrard out of City clash

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will not make his return to action against Manchester City on Sunday, as the club eye next week's Champions League tie with Real Madrid.

Gerrard is still battling a hamstring injury suffered in the FA Cup against Everton two weeks ago and with European action resuming next week, manager Rafael Benitez confirmed on Friday that the midfielder will not be risked this weekend.

"Steven will not be ready for this game," Benitez told the club's website. "We don't know if he'll be back for the game in midweek but clearly he will not be involved against City.

"He is improving but we cannot take any risks so he won't be in the squad."

Liverpool travel to face Real Madrid in the Champions League knock-out stages on Wednesday and although the Premier League's second-placed club need to beat City to keep up the pressure on leaders Manchester United, Benitez will not risk his inspirational skipper.

Gerrard's absence will leave the Reds a little thin in midfield with Xabi Alonso suspended for the Anfield clash after picking up five yellow cards.

Meanwhile, Benitez rested Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt from the side that won last time out at Portsmouth, but was forced to bring both on as substitutes to turn the match.

Both are expected to start this time, while Lucas will return after suspension, with Fabio Aurelio returning to full-back after a stint in midfield at Fratton Park.

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