Benitez stands by Gerrard's inclusion

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Rafael Benitez insists he did not take an unwise gamble on Steven Gerrard's fitness in the 2-1 Champions League defeat at home to Lyon.

The Liverpool manager believes too that the Reds can still reach the last 16, despite having only three points from three Group E matches so far. The loss of Gerrard after just 25 minutes with a recurrence of his groin injury was a savage blow, with Fernando Torres and Glen Johnson both also sidelined.

Benitez said: "It was not a gamble to play Gerrard. He wanted to play and had trained normally for two games."

He added: "He was given the all-clear by the doctor, and what happened was just bad luck. He felt something wrong in his groin, and it was wise to come off."

Benitez will oversee a succession of scans for his injured stars before being able to start preparation for Sunday's visit of Premier League champions Manchester United.

Liverpool have staged miracle survivals in the group stages of Europe before - and will need another one now.

Benitez recalled: "We have come back before - and we can do it again.

"We now must be ready for the next match. I have confidence that we have the quality to overcome these problems.

"We have to push players now, to keep working and to maintain our confidence. We just had too many problems before and during the game. Losing Glen Johnson before the match, and then Gerrard and Martin Kelly during the match, was just too much to contend with.

"It was a difficult game with all our problems, and we had done well to be leading at the break. Then we had two or three chances soon after the interval."

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European News
Glen Johnson
Premier League
Fernando Torres
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Steven Gerrard
Martin Kelly

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