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Sep 9, 2008

Rafa hopeful on star pair for Saturday

Liverpool will give Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard every chance to prove their fitness for Saturday's clash with Manchester United. Hopeful manager Rafael Benitez, still awaiting his first league win over the Reds' arch-rivals, says both of his leading lights are 'improving' as they battle back from their respective injuries. Gerrard is the bigger doubt for the lunchtime clash after groin surgery but the Anfield club's medical staff are reportedly encouraged by Torres' progress in recovering from a hamstring injury.

Last weekend Gerrard said the United match would come too soon for him, and he was targeting the Champions League match against Marseille next Tuesday.

"It is always more difficult to prepare for the match with injuries because you know that if they are fit we will use them, but in this case you never know," Benitez said.

"It is better to avoid saying whether they can be available - it is difficult to say if they can play or not because they may have not played for 10 or 15 days.

"But they are both working hard with the physios and are improving, so there's still some time to decide."

Benitez remains optimistic about Gerrard, although he has confidence in the rest of the squad should his captain not make it.

"You never know, he is still progressing. The key is the fitness of the player - it makes a massive difference if he has confidence. That is the main thing for him," the Spaniard told the club's website.

"Clearly we have enough quality in the squad, so it is always important to look to the other players and sometimes they can give more to you than the big names.

"They can have the same quality and passion and they also have a lot to prove to the supporters."

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