Gerrard to return for mission impossible

Injured Liverpool captain expected to face Blues after sitting out Blackburn game

Rafael Benitez expects to be able to set about Liverpool's monumental Champions League challenge at Chelsea tomorrow night with Steven Gerrard playing from the start.

Benitez will need to use his captain sparingly during the run-in, a factor which adds to the tension on Merseyside as Liverpool continue to outperform Manchester United, but his gamble on leaving him on the bench for Saturday's league encounter with Blackburn Rovers has paid off, with Gerrard (right) not needed. "The risk was there but he has got more chances [of playing Chelsea] now," Benitez said of Gerrard, who has slightly strained an adductor muscle in his groin. "The physio will work with him, so hopefully he'll be there." The seven-day break between the Stamford Bridge second leg and Arsenal's arrival at Anfield in the league provides the recuperation Gerrard would need from a major contribution to what will need to be one of their greatest comebacks to progress to another semi-final.

Gerrard seems to have returned from England duty with the strain, the latest in a string of groin problems to have affected him this season. Benitez had been prepared to use him if necessary on Saturday, with the prospect of overturning Chelsea's 3-1 first leg lead seemingly more remote than catching United, who regained the title ascendancy in unconvincing fashion with their 2-1 win at Sunderland.

Fernando Torres, whose two goals against Rovers took his tally to 11 in 19 league starts, said the manner of Liverpool's victory had lifted hopes that they can score the three they need in west London. "We have kept our confidence after the Champions League game," Torres said. "I think Chelsea will play for a win. If they score one or two it is over, so they will not just defend."

Michael Essien, whose command of Gerrard was crucial in the first leg, will be fit for tomorrow, having been rested on Saturday. Hiddink is almost certain to start him against Liverpool, having seen the difference without him on Saturday.

Torres, anonymous and looking tired after scoring Liverpool's opener at Anfield last Wednesday, has admitted that his preparations for next season must be better than this. "I will try and get enough rest. It is just four or five games [left]," he said. "But we have to talk at Liverpool about the next pre-season and try and do the right things."

Benitez can only wait and hope his two main assets make it through and believes the Premier League may have had a different complexion had Torres been fitter throughout. "We have had some games this season that ended in draws that, had Fernando been playing, it could have made a massive difference," he said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
gaming
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible