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Europa League round of 16 draw

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By ESPN Staff

Gerrard ready to put friendship with Rooney on hold

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will put his friendship with Wayne Rooney firmly to one side when the England stars come face to face at Old Trafford tomorrow.

The pair probably carry more of the hopes of England fans for the World Cup finals than any others from Sven-Goran Eriksson's squad.

However, tomorrow at Old Trafford sees the showdown of the season for the pair and their clubs.

And the Liverpool captain revealed he understands fully just why passionate Evertonian and Manchester United striker Rooney said he 'felt sick' when the Anfield men lifted the European Cup last season.

Gerrard told the club's website: 'I'm not surprised. I'd probably get a similar feeling as him if Manchester United were to go and do it - that's just the rivalry between the two clubs.'

But Gerrard admits to a great admiration for the former Everton youngster, saying: 'It's great to see Wayne doing well because he's a great mate of mine from the England set-up and he's absolutely flying at the moment.

'I think a couple of years down the line we'll be talking about him as one of the best players in the world.'

Gerrard goes into tomorrow's Premiership clash in arguably the best form of his life, admitting: 'I'm really enjoying my football at the moment. I have a clear mind and I'm just fully focused on doing the job for the team and everything's going well at the moment.'

And Gerrard described his excitement at the current Liverpool form and their prospects under boss Rafael Benitez.

He said: 'I'm very excited. There's been a lot of improvement from last season, we've just gone into the fourth round of the FA Cup, we're in the last 16 of the Champions league and we're also tucked in nicely in the league with a couple of games in hand.

'Things are looking really good, the team's getting better and better, the squad's getting stronger and he's still after more players so the future's looking bright for the team.'