17 August 2007

errr.... Gerrard injured... but his service is so much needed in order to kick Chelshit-ass

Rafael Benitez's single-minded attitude to Steven Gerrard's fitness underlines just how important it is to the manager that Liverpool maintain their title challenge from first match to last.
The Anfield boss will "push" his captain to play against Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday, despite scans showing he has a hairline fracture of the big toe on his right foot.
Manager, player and medical staff have conferred - and the upshot is that Gerrard will play against the former champions and then rest during international week.
England manager Steve McClaren's problems for the midweek friendly against Germany are clearly not top of Benitez's list - even if he is about to deny England the player who would have captained the side in John Terry's absence.
Benitez will use Gerrard, who picked up the injury against Toulouse in Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League qualifying round first-leg win, and leave McClaren with no choice but to accept the player will not be fit to face the Germans.
McClaren could pick a squad, force Gerrard to travel to the England team HQ for medical tests yet still find that he could not be risked in the international.
Such is Gerrard's importance to Benitez, he is almost certainly now going to face Chelsea after being given a pain-killing injection.
Benitez, who has had to overcome Peter Crouch's problems with team rotation this week, has made it clear Gerrard's presence is worth the "little risk".
"We have confidence he will be available for the weekend; then he must rest. We must manage the risk, and he will play against Chelsea," the Reds boss said.
"But if he trains and plays more games after that it will be a bigger risk. We know you cannot push a player too much; for one game it is okay - for more it is a risk.
"He will want to play every game, every minute. He will want to play against Chelsea.
"It is a really important game; we are at home and we want to continue our good start against them, because they are a really top side.
"If you can beat a top side things get much better. Our away results and those against top sides were not so good last season, and we know we have to improve.
"If we can beat Chelsea it will be a boost for everybody. We have confidence we can win and we hope we will do."
Gerrard is key to those hopes.
Benitez confirmed: "Steven has a hairline fracture in his toe. He will be available for the weekend.
"The injury is not really serious, but is something we need to be careful with.
"He will have an injection so he can play without pain. I have talked to Steven and the doctor - it is not a big risk.
"Afterwards he will have a rest - maybe one or two weeks. It will stop him joining up with England.
"I will talk to Steve McClaren, but I am sure he will understand."
Crouch, meanwhile, went to great lengths to emphasise that he and Benitez have settled their differences.
"Of course, I was disappointed not to play at Villa," said the forward.
"The manager explained to me it will be a long season - and he proved what he meant by replacing the two strikers who started at Villa with me and Andriy Voronin in Toulouse.
"I am sure he will chop and change, but everyone will play their fair share. Everyone knows players want to play - and when you have been geared up all pre-season to playing on the first day, of course you do not want to miss out.
"Anyone in my position would feel the same.
"People would be disappointed with me if I was not disappointed. But whenever I am called upon I will be ready - I am not the kind to go screaming and kicking down doors; I have got to prove to the manager in training that I should be in the team."

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