Gerrard assault charge dropped

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An assault charge against Steven Gerrard was dropped today when the Liverpool captain appeared in court in connection with a bar brawl that left a disc jockey hospitalized.

The 28-year-old England midfielder still faces a charges of affray, or fighting, stemming from the 29 December fracas at a nightclub in Southport.

Gerrard was among seven men who appeared in court to face charges of assault and affray in the case.

Prosecutor Nick Evans told the court that after a "review of the evidence in full" it was decided that all seven defendants should only face affray charges.

Among those appearing alongside Gerrard were two Accrington Stanley players - 28-year-old goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin and 18-year-old midfielder Robert Grant.

Gerrard had gone to the bar in Southport with friends to celebrate after Liverpool's 5-1 win over Newcastle. The bar's 34-year-old disc jockey, Marcus McGee,, was hospitalized after losing a tooth and cutting his forehead.

No formal pleas were entered today. The case was committed to Liverpool Crown Court for a plea hearing on 3 April.

Gerrard arrived at the court after the other six defendants. Wearing a gray suit and a dark blue tie, he shook hands with his co-accused and stood chatting with them for 15 minutes before the case began. After the brief hearing, he left the court and was driven away.

Gerrard has been a regular for club and country since 2000. He has scored 14 goals in 70 international matches and dominated Liverpool's recent successes, including the 2005 Champions League win over AC Milan and the following season's FA Cup final victory over West Ham.

Although he is a tough tackler, Gerrard is rarely violent on the field and has just five yellow cards this season.