Gerrard ruled out of crucial Champions League tie

Steven Gerrard has been ruled out of Liverpool's Champions League trip to Lyon, but striker Fernando Torres will be on the plane that heads for France tomorrow.

Although Gerrard has now played just 25 minutes of five matches since he sustained a groin injury while on England duty, boss Rafael Benitez has delayed any decision on whether his captain needs an operation.

Club sources suggest that Benitez is happy that Gerrard's treatment is progressing well and that the player's injury problem is improving.

If Gerrard does have an operation on his groin, it will rule him out for a month and he would be unlikely to play again until mid-December.

Liverpool are trying to avoid that eventuality, and Benitez will assess the midfielder's fitness levels again when the Anfield men return from Wednesday's match.

Gerrard will then have more intensive treatment ahead of the club's next league match, at home to Birmingham on Monday.

Torres will travel with the party, having been taken off at Fulham on Saturday after a hour to protect his adductor muscle injury.

Albert Riera (hamstring), Martin Kelly (ankle) and Martin Skrtel (muscle and virus), are also definitely out of the Group E match that Liverpool must win if they want to retain any serious hopes of qualifying for the last 16.

But £20million Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani will be available for selection after recovering from a virus.

Benitez said: "Aquilani trained today but was a little bit weak. Hopefully in two days' time he will be better.

"Gerrard won't travel to Lyon. He has no chance. He is improving but we have to wait. He has had an injection but we have to wait two or three days and see how he reacts.

"Skrtel has no chance. He has a small muscle problem. It's not too big but he is feeling something."

Meanwhile, the Liverpool manager will make late fitness calls on the recovering Daniel Agger (back), Glen Johnson (calf), Fabio Aurelio (calf) and David Ngog (ankle), none of whom travelled to Craven Cottage.

Benitez said: "Agger is improving - he will travel and we will then decide. He felt something in his back but it's much better now. We have to wait and see how he reacts.

"Fabio is improving but he still has a small problem in his calf, so we will have to wait. Ngog is much better, so he could be available.

"Johnson is training and working with the physios but he is a doubt at this moment. He will travel to Lyon and we will see."

Benitez again explained his decision to substitute Torres at Fulham, saying: "I was surprised with the criticism after the game because Fernando has had problems in the last month after the international games.

"We are trying to manage because he was close to having an operation. Still this morning, 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 manage and try to protect him. He cannot play well if you keep pushing him. Maybe if you push him he will be injured for a long time.

"So, I am really surprised with the critics. When you talk about big names, people just analyse the names and not how the player is when he is on the pitch. He was not 100% fit.

"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."

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'