Reds travel without Gerrard

02 November 2009 04:45
// A bit of a hack but it works// The article snippet is wrapped onto a second line, even when #article-sub is emptyif( $("div#article-sub").children().length == 0 ) {$("div#article-sub").remove();} Liverpool will be without inspirational captain Steven Gerrard for Wednesday's vital UEFA Champions League trip to Lyon, but Fernando Torres has travelled to France.

The Reds skipper has failed to shake off the groin problem which has ruled him out over previous weeks and he will again be unavailable to under-fire boss Rafa Benitez.

Speculation has suggested that Gerrard could require surgery to cure the injury, with the England star undergoing continued examinations.

Benitez said: "Gerrard won't travel to Lyon. He has no chance. He is improving but we have to wait. He has had an injection but we have to wait two or three days and see how he reacts."

However, the Liverpool boss, who saw his side suffer a sixth defeat in seven games when losing at Fulham on Saturday, has been boosted by the fact that Torres is a part of his squad.

The Spain international was substituted after an hour in the loss at Craven Cottage, with the change coming under scrutiny, but the decision has paid off.

Aquilani optimismBenitez is hopeful £20million summer signing Alberto Aquilani will be able to feature after a virus, but Martin Skrtel is still sidelined with a muscle complaint.

He said: "Aquilani trained today (Monday) but was a little bit weak. Hopefully in two days' time he will be better.

"Skrtel has no chance. He has a small muscle problem. It's not too big but he is feeling something."

Meanwhile, Benitez will make late fitness calls on the recovering Daniel Agger (back), Glen Johnson (calf), Fabio Aurelio (calf) and David Ngog (ankle), none of whom travelled to Craven Cottage.

He said: "Agger is improving - he will travel and we will then decide. He felt something in his back but it's much better now. We have to wait and see how he reacts.

"Fabio is improving but he still has a small problem in his calf, so we will have to wait. Ngog is much better, so he could be available.

Doubt"Johnson is training and working with the physios but he is a doubt at this moment. He will travel to Lyon and we will see."

Benitez again explained his decision to substitute Torres at Fulham, saying: "I was surprised with the criticism after the game because Fernando has had problems in the last month after the international games.

"We are trying to manage because he was close to having an operation. Still this morning, two days after the game, he is feeling something.

"He is not comfortable. He has not got the power he had before, so we have to manage and try to protect him. He cannot play well if you keep pushing him. Maybe if you push him he will be injured for a long time.

"So, I am really surprised with the critics. When you talk about big names, people just analyse the names and not how the player is when he is on the pitch. He was not 100 per cent fit.

"We have to take Fernando to Lyon because we don't have too many options. We have to keep working with him and the rest of the players."

Source: SKY_Sports