Reds sweat on Gerrard fitness as skipper a doubt for Bridge

LIVERPOOL are awaiting the results of a scan that could rule skipper Steven Gerrard out of the Champions League quarter-final second leg at Chelsea.

Gerrard had the scan on his troublesome groin problem yesterday, and the club are expecting the results this morning.

The 29-year-old arrived at the club’s Melwood training complex for fitness tests yesterday which were reviewed by Liverpool’s medical team before it was decided he needed a scan.

The England midfielder struggled with the injury during Wednesday night’s 3-1 first-leg defeat by Chelsea, when he was man-marked by Michael Essien.

Before the Chelsea defeat there had been fears Gerrard was still struggling from the ankle injury that forced his precautionary exit from Saturday’s win at Fulham. But Gerrard was passed fit to play.

But now Liverpool are bracing themselves for Gerrard missing tomorrow’s home Premier League game with Blackburn as well as the quarter-final second leg at Stamford Bridge next Tuesday.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was concerned about his captain’s fitness after the Blues match.

He said after the game: “Steven was not 100%, you could see that. It was the same for Fernando Torres, you could see that they were a little tired, not as sharp as before.

“But credit to Chelsea, they were always controlling Steven and making it difficult for him to play.

“The injury he had on Saturday was not the problem, his ankle was okay.”

Meanwhile Liverpool defender Fabio Aurelio insists his side can maintain their Premier League title challenge, despite their mauling at the hands of Chelsea.

“I believe the team is capable of responding now after such a defeat,” he insists.

“We have to show our strength now in the league on Saturday; we know this is a very important part of the season and we must get ourselves back on track with a win.”

Goalkeeper Jose Reina defended Liverpool’s heavily criticised zonal marking system which saw the Reds cut open twice at set pieces on Wednesday night. Reina said: “It is always the same when we concede goals from free-kicks — people start talking about man-marking and zonal.

“But we have done it for five years and I know we are one of the teams that conceded fewest from set-pieces over that time.”

And it is very clear that manager Rafael Benitez is not about to change a system that has served him well throughout his managerial career.

Benitez said: “It is not the system. It is the mistakes that were made by players.”


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