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Gerrard boost for Benitez ahead of Man City clash
Published : 19 Nov 2009 13:29:33
Rafael Benitez will be boosted by the return of key players, including Steven Gerrard, for the crunch weekend fixture against Manchester City but Fernando Torres is not expected to be fit.
Spain striker Torres has been in and out of the Liverpool team recently, missing their last match and being substituted in their previous two.
Liverpool fans were hoping that their superstar striker would recover in time for Saturday's game but Benitez admitted that he would not. He said: "Fernando Torres is training with the physios, so I don't think he'll be available."
During the international break, four of the Merseyside club's players travelled to Serbia to visit radical therapist Mariana Kovacevic in order to feature against their Manchester based rivals.
Albert Riera and Yossi Benayoun were the first of the quartet to make the trip, after picking up hamstring injuries during the Reds' 2-2 draw against Birmingham City a fortnight ago.
The pair are now expected to be available for Benitez as the Spaniard bids to halt a run of form which has seen them pick up just four points in their last six league games.
The Anfield club are also on the verge of elimination from the Champions League, a competition which has served them so well during Benitez's reign, at the group stages.
Now Glen Johnson and Fabio Aurelio are expected to gain the same treatment as their two team mates and be back in time for the game against free-spending City.
Liverpool will also be waiting on the fitness of David N'Gog, who broke his nose whilst featuring for France's under-21 team.
Captain Gerrard, though, should provide a welcome boost for fans as he hopes to return. The midfielder said: "I'm looking forward to the weekend. There's no mental hurdle to cross.
"I've had a problem in my groin that has taken a while to get over but I'm just relieved the second injection seems to have done the trick."
Left back Emiliano Insua said, of Gerrard's return: "Stevie is one of the most important players for us and to have him in the team is really important."
The Argentine also played down any thoughts of a crisis at Anfield, saying: "We know we have to start winning games and this is a big game.
"But it's still too early to be looking at the league table. Maybe we can look at it again in February/March and then see where we are."
- By David Brenchley