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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Gerrard rules himself out of Man United showdown

Liverpool have been dealt a major blow ahead of Saturday's showdown with Manchester United with Steven Gerrard ruling himself out of the match. The captain had surgery on a persistent groin injury after helping Liverpool qualify for the group stage of the Champions League with an extra-time victory over Standard Liege on August 27.

And the 28-year-old revealed the full extent of his injury misery which forced him to take multiple painkillers to get him through matches.

Manager Rafael Benitez admitted that Gerrard could struggle to make the Anfield encounter but was hopeful he would make a speedy recovery.

It's a huge blow for the Merseyside outfit with Fernando Torres already definitely out with a hamstring strain which he suffered in the last Premier League fixture at Aston Villa.

"The United game is too soon," Gerrard told the Liverpool Daily Post. "I've a decent chance for the Champions League game in Marseille but I've spoken to the manager and told him I'd like to do a certain amount of training before I come back.

"I don't want to go into a big game only having had one session with the boys.

"There are times when you have got to forget about England and Liverpool and get yourself right. I had a good rest in the summer and felt great when I came back. Then, as soon as I went into training, the groin started niggling. One day it would be the right, then the left, and over a month's pre-season, it started to be a real worry.

"I strained both sides, which is a separate injury from the main groin problem I've got. The strains came about because I was training and playing differently to reduce the pain further up the pelvic bone."

Gerrard added: "The decision about surgery was taken after our game against Standard Liege. I had a meeting with the club doctor on the day of the game and said the discomfort was getting to the stage where I couldn't continue.

"I'd had to double, then treble, my dose of painkillers to train and play, and I was having to take them during games. You get to the stage where you can't grind it out any longer. I told the doctor, 'I can't find my level, I can't get to 100 per cent because I'm missing training sessions and I don't feel right in games. I don't feel I can go to the max'.

"I couldn't sprint flat out, couldn't pass more than 30 yards and couldn't shoot properly and, as much as you want to be out there for every game, it is important to be right."

It may come as a surprise to many that Gerrard has already pulled himself out of what is one of the club's biggest games of the season, but the player clearly considered his long-term fitness more important.

With Liverpool missing Gerrard and Torres and Manchester United welcoming Dimitar Berbatov for his debut it puts the Premier League champions as clear favourites for the game.

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