Eager Gerrard gives Liverpool boss Benitez a Real problem

24 February 2009 12:30
Rafa Benitez faces a selection dilemma over Steven Gerrard after the Liverpool

skipper came through a training ground test on his hamstring injury and made it clear he wants to face Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Gerrard reported no reaction to a work-out at Melwood on Monday morning, after three weeks on the sidelines, and is believed to have indicated an eagerness to be involved in the opening leg of Liverpool's Champions League last 16 game at the Bernabeu.

Benitez must now decide whether to risk his influential England midfielder from the start or keep him in reserve on the bench, in case his surging runs are needed later in the game.



Ready to return: Steven Gerrard is eager to face Real Madrid on Wednesday

Significantly, the Liverpool manager admitted he would canvass Gerrard's views before making a decision, but he is also acutely aware of the damage that can be done by coming back too soon from hamstring trouble and possibly aggravating it.

He appeared to be erring on the side of caution as he said: 'Stevie was OK in training this morning and he will be in the squad. It was a special session, so we were not testing him 100 per cent. But he did OK, so we will see.'

While Benitez appeared to harbour some misgivings, opposite number Juande Ramos was in no doubt about Gerrard's involvement and even accused Liverpool of playing mind games over his fitness.

 How Juande Ramos ruined Rafa Benitez's dream date at Madrid

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Convinced Gerrard will lead out Liverpool, the former Tottenham

manager said: 'I never doubted that for one moment.

'Ever since the injury happened and they gave him a three-week recovery period I interpreted it as a strategy. At no point did I think he might not play.'

Looking ahead: Real Madrid head coach Juande Ramos is eyeing a three-goal lead to take to Anfield

In an attempt to pile further pressure on Benitez, Ramos called for a three-goal lead to take to Anfield and singled out former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben as the player who could make it happen.

'I am looking for a three-goal advantage because that could be decisive and would make going to Anfield that much easier,' said Ramos.

'Arjen has been spectacular since I arrived. He is different to the rest and has those very rare qualities of speed and an ability to get past defenders.'

Meanwhile, striker Dirk Kuyt insists Liverpool can stun Real, even though their Premier League title dreams are fading fast.

Kuyt said: 'We must concentrate on getting the right result there. Whatever seems to be happening in our league matches, we always seem to turn in a good performance in the Champions League.

'Madrid will be tough and we must be ready. But we believe we can get the right result.

'I watched them on TV on Saturday scoring six against Real Betis.

'They were excellent but we are not scared of them.'

 How Juande Ramos ruined Rafa Benitez's dream date at Madrid

Former Chelsea winger Robben out for Reds revenge with Real

Liverpool must use Madrid match to restore confidence, says Kuyt

Champions League lowdown: Real Madrid v Liverpool

LIVERPOOL FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB





 

Source: Daily_Mail