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Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Gerrard receives Benitez backing

Steven Gerrard
Gerrard has been key to Liverpool's success this season

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez says Steven Gerrard has his "full support and backing" following his captain's arrest after an alleged brawl.

Gerrard was charged with assault and affray after an incident at a bar in Southport in the early hours of Monday.

Benitez said: "I sat down with him and had a very good talk about the situation. We'll do whatever we can to support Steven in the weeks ahead."

Benitez also confirmed that Gerrard, 28, took part in training on Wednesday.

Gerrard was arrested with five other men - two of whom face the same charges as the footballer - near the Lounge Inn bar and nightclub in the seaside resort.

Benitez added: "Steven explained to me what had happened and I told him he has my full support and backing, along with everyone else at the football club.

"He's trained with the other lads after a couple of days off for the squad and is keen now to focus solely on his football. He is our captain and a key player for us.

"We've worked very hard to get into the position we're in going through to the new year and all of us are determined to keep that progress going. We're now concentrating on our preparation for the FA Cup game at Preston this weekend."

Steven has been an outstanding servant to Liverpool for the last 10 years and the club will give him all the support he needs at this time

Liverpool FC statement

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said: "We have a watching brief on this and have offered any help we can. I was concerned when I heard about the case as I have known Steven Gerrard a long time.

"I don't know the full details but as the players' union we would want to be supportive of him."

The England midfielder arrived at Liverpool's training ground in the suburb of West Derby at 1005 GMT and was greeted by a few fans, despite the freezing temperatures.

He has so far remained silent about the controversy and on Tuesday his wife Alex Curran, 26, said they would not be commenting.

Gerrard's visit to the bar on Sunday followed Liverpool's 5-1 demolition of Newcastle at St James' Park, a game in which the England international scored twice, as the Reds moved three points clear of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

A 34-year-old man was taken to hospital with facial injuries after the alleged incident. Gerrard is due to appear at North Sefton Magistrates' Court with the other two men on 23 January.

The Football Association said it would not be making any comment on the Gerrard case other than to stress that his position with England was not in question.

It added that players would continue to be considered for England while police investigations were on-going, with their situation looked at on a case-by-case basis were they to be convicted of a serious criminal offence.

Meanwhile, Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish believes Gerrard will cope with the scrutiny, saying: "Liverpool will support him and the Liverpool fans will support him tremendously well. He's a really strong character and I'm sure it won't affect his performance.

A Liverpool statement, released on Tuesday, read: "Steven has been an outstanding servant to Liverpool for the last 10 years and the club will give him all the support he needs at this time."

Gerrard has been capped by England 70 times and has captained his country four times. He was made an MBE last year and received an honorary fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.

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see also
Charged Gerrard offered support
31 Dec 08 |  Merseyside
Gerrard backs Liverpool for title
29 Dec 08 |  Liverpool
Newcastle 1-5 Liverpool
28 Dec 08 |  Premier League

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