Benitez hoping for injury lift

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The Independent Football

Rafael Benitez will assess the condition of his walking wounded today before flying to France for the crunch Champions League clash with Lyon.

Steven Gerrard, Martin Kelly, Martin Skrtel and Albert Riera will definitely miss tomorrow's Group E match - a game Liverpool have to win to maintain any hopes of reaching the last 16 - while Glen Johnson (calf), Daniel Agger (back), Fabio Aurelio (calf) and David Ngog (ankle) are doubts.

Such is Liverpool's injury plight that boss Benitez may take all four with him for the Stade Gerland showdown, even if there is just a chance they will recover enough to be involved. Certainly Agger and Ngog are considered fit to travel.

But Benitez seems set on a major gamble on Fernando Torres and £20million new boy Alberto Aquilani, who has yet to start a match for his new club.

Without Gerrard, Benitez is considering using the pair as Liverpool's main attackers against the side who won 2-1 at Anfield last month.

Torres has a persistent groin problem, and was taken off after an hour at Fulham on Saturday, a game Liverpool eventually lost 3-1 without him.

Benitez said: "We have to take Fernando to Lyon because we don't have too many options. We have to keep working with him and the rest of the players.

"We are trying to manage because he was close to having an operation. Still yesterday, two days after the game, he is feeling something.

"He is not comfortable. He has not got the power he had before, so we have to try to protect him.

"But he cannot play well if you keep pushing him, maybe if you push him he will be injured for a long time."

Aquilani recently picked up a virus, but he trained yesterday, with Benitez saying: "He was a bit weak, hopefully he will be better for the match."

Such is the crisis that, not including Torres and Aquilani, Liverpool have 17 fit players for the trip, including three goalkeepers.

Youngsters Jay Spearing, Stephen Darby and Nathan Eccleston could all figure. Manchester-born Eccleston, 18, made his league debut as a late substitute at Craven Cottage, while Darby, 20, with just two senior appearances could figure at right-back from the start.