Liverpool to learn Gerrard fate

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The Independent Online

Liverpool will know this morning whether Steven Gerrard will be able to lead them into their toughest Champions League clash of the season when they take on Real Madrid tonight.

They could be facing the rampant Spanish champions without Gerrard if a decision is made that his hamstring problem cannot be risked in the Bernabeu.

With Liverpool's domestic title challenge hanging by a thread, their continued involvement in the world's biggest club competition is vital for the rest of their season.

And Gerrard is needed to lead from the front if they are going to have any chance against a Real side in rampant form, having won their last nine La Liga games in succession.

Manager Rafael Benitez said: "Steven was not fit to face Manchester City on Sunday, but we will now wait to see how he does after two training sessions before making a decision about this game.

"It will not be a gamble. If the doctor says he is okay, then it is not a risk. Steven is more mature now, he would not make a decision that would be considered a risk.

"He will be involved in light training sessions, we will not try to hide anything, we will make a decision when we are sure.

"Gerrard knows he must give something to the team, and if he cannot do that he will know he is not ready. I can trust Steven on that."

And team-mate Jamie Carragher believes Liverpool can win here even without Gerrard.

Carragher said: "We can get a good result without Steven. We have done it in the past, he is a great player - one of the best in the world - and we hope he will be fit.

"But when we won the trophy in 2005 there were plenty of games when Steven didn't play. Obviously we are a better side when he plays, and hopefully he will be playing."

Carragher was in buoyant mood despite Liverpool's perilous position in the domestic title race. And he is clearly looking forward to playing in the Bernabeu.

He said: "It is fantastic to be here, I get very excited about ties like this because you want to experience playing in the big stadiums. We have never played here so a lot of us were really pleased with the draw.

"This is against the team who are probably the biggest in European football, and Liverpool are proud that we are up there alongside AC Milan and Real as the three most successful teams in Europe.

"For two of those teams to be pitted against each other in the Champions League, shows now how big this game is.

"There's 14 European Cups won between us, and hopefully we can make it six for us this season."

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