Gerrard can just 'focus on football'

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The Independent Football

The Liverpool manager, Rafa Benitez, was delighted that his captain Steven Gerrard could now "focus on football" after being cleared of affray during his trial yesterday.

This has not been the smoothest of pre-seasons for Benitez, and the tour to the Far East this week has been dogged by a succession of problems.

Injuries to Martin Skrtel and Nabil El Zhar which forced the players to return to England for treatment have come on top of the continued transfer saga surrounding Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano and Alvaro Arbeloa.

But as he prepared his side for tomorrow's friendly against Singapore, Benitez was relieved that Gerrard was acquitted at Liverpool Crown Court following an incident in Southport on 29 December last year.

Gerrard missed the tour because of the week-long trial and will be reunited with his team-mates next week when Liverpool return.

Benitez was told of Gerrard's acquittal during a training session yesterday and said: "We are really pleased. He is very important for us and he can now focus just on football. Hopefully, he will play at the same level as last year."

Benitez also confirmed that the Real Madrid target Alonso was fit following an ankle injury and ready to play against Singapore.

Benitez, who also has Yossi Benayoun back from an ankle problem, said: "I am very happy to have Yossi and Xabi back. They are working very hard, the tempo of the session was fantastic and the fans really enjoyed it.

New signing Glen Johnson may miss out on tomorrow's game as he recovers from an Achilles injury. Benitez said: "We are being careful with Glen. We do not want to do any further damage."