Footballer Gerrard bailed in brawl case

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England footballer Steven Gerrard was bailed today after saying he will deny attacking a man during a nightclub brawl.

The Liverpool captain appeared before magistrates over an allegation that he was at the centre of a fight at the Lounge Inn, in Southport, last month.

Wearing a smart navy blue suit and black tie, the 28-year-old appeared before JPs at North Sefton Magistrates' Court in Southport, Merseyside.

He spoke only to confirm his name, age and address, and said he intended to plead not guilty to affray and assault on 28 December last year.

Gerrard listened intently throughout the proceedings.

The court heard that Marcus McGee, 34, received two cuts to his face and broke a tooth during the alleged fight.

The day after the incident, for which a total of eight men have been arrested, blood and broken glass were clearly visible on the floor of the nightclub - a popular spot with Merseyside celebrities.

Five men are currently on bail.

Gerrard, married to model and columnist Alex Curran, was celebrating Liverpool's 5-1 victory over Newcastle United when trouble began.

Today, he was joined in the dock by co-accused John Doran, 29, and Ian Smith, 19, both from Huyton, Merseyside.

The two other men also said they would deny the same charges.

It is alleged the three defendants were part of a group that kicked and punched Mr McGee.

The case will be heard again on 20 March after a routine eight-week adjournment for case preparation.

Nick Evans, prosecuting, said the case was not suitable for trial at magistrates' court and should be heard by a judge.

He asked for an extra fortnight - to prepare the case because it was "complex".

But after submissions from defence solicitors including Gerrard's, Richard Green, the magistrates adjourned the case back to the court at Southport on 20 March rather than 3 April.

All three were given bail with conditions not to contact witnesses or enter the Lounge Bar unless with their solicitors.

Gerrard, a father of two young daughters, emerged from the half-hour hearing to face ranks of photographers and a handful of supporters.

Merseyside Police had cordoned off the court with steel riot barriers after a "Support Stevie G" group was set up on the social networking site Facebook.