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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Gerrard goes under the knife

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will have a groin operation on Friday and which will rule him out of both of England's crucial World Cup qualifying matches against Andorra and Croatia next week. The 28-year-old had been playing through the pain for Liverpool, and during England's friendly with the Czech Republic last week, but following Wednesday night's 1-0 win over Standard Liege in a Champions League qualifier he was booked in for surgery.

Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez insists the England international can no longer play on and as well as missing England's double header he will also miss Sunday's Premier League match with Aston Villa and possibly the home game against arch-rivals Manchester United on September 13.

'(Gerrard) has a groin problem so he will have an operation and could be out for 10 to 15 days,' explained Benitez.

'It's not serious, but we need to do it. He has been playing some games in pain, not being 100 per cent fit.

'He had a problem for the first leg with Liege and when he went away with England for the friendly last week against the Czech Republic.

'We talked with the doctor and it was decided that Steven would play in this match with the pain, but now we will have to get the situation solved.'

England boss Fabio Capello will no doubt be disappointed with that decision because following the relatively easy trip to Barcelona to play Andorra on Saturday, September 6 the away trip to Croatia four days later could well decide the World Cup qualifying group, with only one team going through automatically.

The eight best runners-up in each group will have to go through a play-off to advance to World Cup 2010.

Steve McClaren's England lost to Croatia home and away as they failed to qualify for Euro 2008.

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