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Steven Gerrard has not travelled for the first leg of Liverpool's Europa League last-16 tie against Braga in Portugal due a groin problem.

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• Reds suffer Aurelio blow

The Liverpool captain has been struggling with the niggle over the past few days and has been afforded a period of rest by his manager, rather than taking part in the European encounter on Thursday.

Gerrard has played only 45 minutes of the competition this season, coming off the bench in the home game against Napoli to score a brilliant hat-trick.

Though Gerrard will be absent in Portugal, along with the injured Fabio Aurelio, Martin Kelly and Daniel Agger, record signing Andrew Carroll is expected to make his European debut for the club.

Club doctor Peter Brukner says the £35 million striker will continue his recovery from a groin problem, having appeared as a substitute in the win over United.

"It's been a long process rehabilitating him - about eight or nine weeks - but we are happy with the result,'' Brukner said. "We've seen steady improvement over that time; he's much stronger in that tendon and in general as well.

"We still need to keep working with him and we want to build his training and playing load up to the level required. He'll play some more minutes against Braga and hopefully he'll be involved more and more with each game. Overall, we are really happy with his progress."


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