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Barcelona focus turns to Luis Suarez

Barcelona about an hour ago
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Feb 23, 2009

Gerrard included in Reds' squad

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been included in the squad to face Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday, having come through a training session.

Gerrard has been out for three weeks with a hamstring injury but was able to take part in training at Melwood on Monday and is poised to travel to the Spanish capital.

The England star was thought to have been close to featuring in Sunday's 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester City but was ruled out by manager Rafael Benitez late last week.

Benitez told the club's website: ''Steven will be in the squad. He was okay in training this morning.

''It was a special training session so we were not testing him 100%, but he trained okay so we will see.''

Gerrard has not played for the Reds since limping out of the FA Cup fourth round replay defeat at Everton on February 4 and his return would be a huge boost for Benitez after Sunday's disappointment, which saw Liverpool end the weekend seven points behind leaders Manchester United.

Xabi Alonso also missed the match against City through suspension but can return at the Bernabeu, raising the prospect of Benitez being able to select his first choice midfield against the club whose youth teams he used to coach.

The Spanish midfielder also believes that the side are ready to face Madrid, even if Gerrard doesn't make the final XI.

Alonso told El Mundo: "I don't know (if Gerrard will play), he will be a doubt until the last hour. For sure he would be a huge loss, but we will have to be as good as if he was with us.

"He is a phenomenal player but in case we have to play without him we will do our best despite his absence."

The midfielder also does not think that the fans will see many goals in Madrid on Wednesday night.

He said: "You never know what is going to happen. Sometimes you expect something, and the opposite situation occurs.

"This is going to be a narrow match with few goals. The only thing that is for sure is that our top priority will be scoring at the Bernabeu and achieve a good result in order to have our destiny in our hands at Anfield."

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