Champions League

Gerrard fitness uncertain

2009-02-24 20:33
Madrid - Liverpool will decide whether captain Steven Gerrard will feature against Real Madrid in Wednesday's Champions League clash after he completes a light training session later on Tuesday, coach Rafael Benitez said.

Benitez has named Gerrard in his squad for the last 16 first leg tie at the Bernabeu even though he has missed almost three weeks with a hamstring injury and had to sit out Liverpool's 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City on Sunday.

"He did not play against Manchester City because he was not fit," Benitez said at a news conference.

"We still have to see him on the pitch at training and we'll see after that," he added. "We'll talk to him and the doctor and at the end decide. We'll have to see if he can give us something on the pitch."

Defender Jamie Carragher said he hoped Gerrard would be fit but noted that Liverpool had been successful in the past without the inspirational England midfielder.

"Of course we'll have a better team if Steven plays and hopefully he'll be fit," he said. "But we've had a lot of good results in the past without him."

Both Benitez and Carragher paid tribute to Real striker Raul, the Champions League top scorer with 64 goals and the Primera Liga champions' all-time leading marksman.

"To play for Real Madrid you need big character and to stay at the top for that long is a great achievement," Carragher said. "When you think of Real Madrid you think of Raul. He's a great player and it's a privilege to be on the same pitch."

Benitez praised Raul for his "great character" and strong mentality.

"He's a winner and great players normally play well in the big games," he said. "Hopefully you will also see some of the great players in our team."

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