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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 15, 2009

Benitez confident Gerrard will be fit for run-in

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez will turn his attention back to the club's bid for a first Premier League title in 19 years after Tuesday night's Champions League exit at Chelsea.

And the Spanish coach will hope to have talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard back in the ranks and fit for the run-in after he missed Saturday's demolition of Blackburn Rovers as well as the 4-4 draw at Chelsea with a troublesome groin problem.

Benitez knows he will need to have his captain back and fit if the Reds are to have a realistic chance of overhauling Manchester United at the top of the table, with the Red Devils leading by one point but with a game in hand against Wigan Athletic on May 13.

After being on the bench against Blackburn it was expected that Gerrard would take his place in the starting line-up at Stamford Bridge but did not make the matchday squad.

"He felt something, so he was unavailable,'' said Benitez. "We thought he could be okay but in the end he felt something. It was an easy decision because he could not play.

"To lose a key player is always important and especially a player like Gerrard but credit to the other players because they did a fantastic job.

"It is not serious and we felt he could be available but he wasn't. Hopefully it will be okay.

"Maybe the result is a positive because we saw we can score four goals here and we can do the same in any stadium. We can win a lot of games with this mentality.

"We showed character, quality and we have to be really proud. The players have done a fantastic job and the fans will be very pleased with the team.

"We were on top of them from the beginning and doing a fantastic job. It is a credit to all the players, especially Lucas in the middle in the position of Steven Gerrard, he worked very hard.

"Thanks to them we were pushing and were very close. But when you play against a good team like Chelsea, if you make a mistake you pay for them. We were attacking and controlling but one or two mistakes allowed them to score.

"We are not happy with the result. When you lose you are disappointed but to lose in this way, the players have to be really proud and hold their heads up high.''

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