Benitez gives Gerrard support

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The Independent Online

Rafael Benitez has attempted to soften Steven Gerrard's disappointment at missing out on the England captaincy by claiming that his Liverpool career can only benefit from Steve McClaren's preference for John Terry.

Having championed Gerrard's cause, Benitez has now claimed that the added burden of the England job could have had a detrimental effect on his club captain.

The Liverpool midfielder will meet Terry tomorrow when the pair lead their clubs out at the Millennium Stadium for the Community Shield. Benitez said the midfielder had been hurt at his failure to land the national post.

"Stevie doesn't have anything to prove," Benitez said. "He knew it was between him and John Terry and that he wasn't the only option. It's not like he was the favourite and it has been taken away from him.

"He is disappointed and it would have been good for Stevie, but now the decision has been made from my point of view as Liverpool manager, I know now he will be totally focused on our team and that can only be better for us. He will not be focused on other things.

"I would be proud if he had been named England captain, but at this moment I know he has 10 years ahead of him playing for his country and he can be captain in the future."

Liverpool will be without Robbie Fowler and Fabio Aurelio in Cardiff , with both players rested in the hope of facing Sheffield United in the Premiership next weekend. "If they really had to play they would, but it is not important for this game," Benitez said.

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