Benitez backs Gerrard to perform after accident

Rafael Benitez wants to see "the real Steven Gerrard" guiding Liverpool towards more European glory.

Rafael Benitez wants to see "the real Steven Gerrard" guiding Liverpool towards more European glory.

But the Liverpool boss has no worries about his skipper's state of mind following a distressing accident on Monday which ended with a 10-year-old boy in hospital with a broken leg.

The youngster is believed to have run into the side of Gerrard's car near his Birkdale home. The Liverpool star visited the boy, Jamie Hellawell, in hospital on Tuesday.

Front-page headlines about his captain were not what Benitez would have wanted ahead of Wednesday's Champions League Group A home clash with Marseille.

But Benitez said: "Steven is fine, OK, he has trained normally and I have talked with him.

"He has been to see the lad in hospital, but I do not see any problem for Steven playing after the accident. Everybody understands the situation and what happened.

"Obviously Steven was disappointed with what happened. He has talked with the family and the boy.

"He was going very slow and it was an unfortunate accident. He was shaken up, but I have talked to him and he has been training normally.

"I do not expect it to be any sort of problem for him when he plays."

Liverpool are without the suspended Jermaine Pennant, and have Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel competing for a wing role, with the manager revealing that he has no other injury problems.

The French side will have former Liverpool men Djibril Cisse and Boudewijn Zenden in their squad, as well as a new coach in Belgian Eric Gerets, taking charge of Marseille for the first time after replacing Albert Emon last month.

Benitez said: "Marseille have had 10 days to prepare for this, and although they have not been doing well in their league, we know they will see this game as one that is vital to them particularly because they have already got one win in the group.

"A new manager makes it more difficult. You do not know what he will do, we knew him from Galatasaray, but it is difficult for us to know how he will alter things.

"They are more dangerous because their form in the French league is not good. They will be determined to produce their best form in the Champions League because of that and to get themselves back on track."

Marseille president Pape Diouf insists his side will not be intimidated on their visit to Anfield.

He told www.om.net: "We're obviously not taking it easy, but we're certainly not overawed. It's the first match of a new era and we want to make a good fist of it.

"It's an important match for us, for the coach, and we have to remain optimistic."

Diouf appreciates new coach Gerets could have had an easier debut at the helm.

"It's obviously not the best match to bounce back because Liverpool are one of Europe's biggest clubs," said the OM supremo.

"In that respect, getting a positive result at Anfield would be a stunning result. And we will be trying to stun a few people on Wednesday."

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