Steven Gerrard says England call 'probably too early'

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The Independent Online

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has suggested England manager Fabio Capello might be better looking elsewhere when he picks his squad for the pivotal Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro.

England's chances of playing in Poland and Ukraine could hang on the match in Podgorica but Gerrard, who has played just 25 minutes of football since returning from a groin operation which kept him out for six months, believes there are players who should be selected ahead of him in Sunday's squad.

"I think everyone knows I'm still not 100% match fit," said the dynamic midfielder, who will report for international duty if he is asked.

"I have only probably had two 12-minute games. I'm not really sure how much I'm going to play against Everton so, in my opinion, it's probably still a bit too early.

"I don't make the decisions. Those decisions are down to the England manager, whether he picks me or not.

"I'm sure he'll have a discussion with [Liverpool manager] Kenny [Dalglish] and between them they can decide what the right thing is for me. In my opinion there are other players out there who are match fit who are probably more suitable for that game, but we'll have to wait and see.

"If I'm called up, I'll deal with it."

Losing to Montenegro next week could see England drop to second place in their group and land them in a two-legged play-off with a team from another group.

He is likely to start tomorrow's Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park on the bench and the 31-year-old is worried rushing back into the fray could set his recovery back.

He said: "I totally understand that. With experience I have come to learn about my own body and I haven't been out for two or three weeks with a hamstring or a calf injury. I've had a reconstruction of my groin and it is going to take time.

"To be fair to Kenny and the medical staff, they have handled me perfectly so far and I'm sure they'll do the same in the coming weeks.

"It's important that I don't force it, they don't force it and we don't push it too hard, but I am at the stage now where the only way I'm going to get my match sharpness, match fitness and get back to the form I want to play at is if I get game time.

"But I also understand it's got to be at the right time as well."

Meanwhile, Gerrard has urged Liverpool to "play without fear" when they travel to Everton.

The Reds start the match at Goodison in fifth place and Gerrard feels the team must stay calm and not get caught up in the atmosphere if they are to take all three points.

He told liverpoolfc.tv: "We need to play without fear.

"Sometimes in derby games you can get involved in the fight and forget to play. It becomes a battle and a tussle rather than us settling and playing our own game.

"We like to pass and move, attack quick and stay compact when we haven't got the ball, so if we can settle really quickly into the game I'm really confident we can get the right result."

Describing the derbies as "the two favourite games for me with Manchester United a close second" Gerrard added: "We've got a very good derby record over the years at Goodison Park, so I don't see why we can't go there with confidence, play our own stuff, not get involved in a fight and I think if we can stay in the game in the first 15-20 minutes we'll come through and win it."

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