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Benitez fears for Gerrard fitness

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard
Gerrard will want the problem cleared up well before next year's World Cup

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has revealed he does not know when captain Steven Gerrard will be able to return to first-team action.

Gerrard, 29, has missed two games with a groin injury, and Benitez has not ruled out the possibility of surgery.

"Gerrard is improving but the next week will be crucial in terms of what we will do with him," said Benitez.

"His progress is slow, we will have to decide what to do if he doesn't progress as quickly as we would hope."

Gerrard picked up the injury while on England duty earlier this month and had to be taken off in the first half of Liverpool's Champions League game against Lyon on 20 October.

He is definitely out of Liverpool's Premier League match against Fulham on Saturday and is a major doubt for their return trip to Lyon next week.

With an operation looming if Gerrard's condition does not improve, the influential midfielder could be looking at a much longer absence.

"I do not know yet whether Steven will play in Lyon, we must work with him. But it is true there is a problem," added Benitez.

"We do have an issue if he is not fit for Lyon, it is a crucial time. In three days we will maybe have a better idea.

"He has had this problem for some time but when he has a lot of games for his club, as well as the national team, it is not easy to give him a rest.

"I do not believe he will have this problem for the rest of his career but we certainly need to find a solution now. We have a good medical staff, I have confidence we can manage this problem."

We do have an issue if Steven is not fit for Lyon, it is a crucial time

Rafael Benitez

Benitez is frustrated that Gerrard picked up the injury while he was away on international duty and says he is desperate for the Reds' captain - who has been shortlisted for the Fifa Player of the Year award, along with team-mate Fernando Torres - to return.

"Steven picked up this injury while playing for England. He lasted only until half-time of the game (in Ukraine)," said the Spaniard. "He rested for two days and then had the same problem in his next training session for England.

"We rested him for one game and then he lasted just 25 minutes of the next match, against Lyon. Since then he has not been able to train or play.

"We now have to be careful. He is working with the physios and I have talked with the doctor. The decision is to continue with the same treatment for a few days. Then we will see.


"We do not want to put him under any further risk. He was unable to play against Manchester United and we won but we obviously need Steven to be fit and available.

"He has just been nominated for world player of the year, along with Fernando, and they both deserve it. And it also shows the quality we are missing when they cannot play."

Liverpool are fifth in the Premier League, six points away from Chelsea in top sport, and are third in Group E in the Champions League.

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see also
England quartet up for Fifa award
30 Oct 09 |  Football
Fulham 3-1 Liverpool
31 Oct 09 |  Premier League
Liverpool 1-2 Lyon
20 Oct 09 |  Europe

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