Football

Injured quartet in squad

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All four of the Liverpool players sent to Belgrade this week for treatment for their injuries are in the squad to face Manchester City at Anfield.

Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio, Yossi Benayoun and Albert Riera have all been treated by Serbian physiotherapist Mariana Kovacevic this week and are all back in full training.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez will also have Steven Gerrard in the starting line-up after a fortnight's break to allow a groin injury to heal.

But striker Fernando Torres, on a three-week treatment programme to cure his more serious groin problem, will not be involved. Jamie Carragher returns after suspension.

Boss Rafa Benitez is desperate to salvage Liverpool's season and get them into the Champions League again next year, and he was prepared to try almost anything to get his top stars fit.

With Steven Gerrard also certain of starting the match against City follow recovery from a groin problem, it is only striker Fernando Torres (also groin) who is not available against Mark Hughes' men.

And it is City who may have inadvertently alerted Liverpool to the placenta cell treatment available in Belgrade.

Riera and City full-back Pablo Zabaleta were friends and team-mates from their time together in Spain, and it was the Argentina international who told his friend about the treatment he had in Belgrade.

Benitez said: "We knew of other players at Premier League clubs who have been to Belgrade for treatment with this lady, and we were made aware that it was very effective. Zabaleta told Riera about it.

"She has been working for seven years with top-class sportsmen, not just footballers. So she has the experience.

"We felt it was a good opportunity to send some of our players. We sent two, Benayoun and Riera and they came back and started training straight away.

"So we decided to send two more, Johnson and Aurelio, and the same thing has happened. They have been training and all four will be in the squad against City."

Record signing Robinho will travel to Liverpool with Manchester City , even if the #32.5million striker is unlikely to play.

The subject of so much media talk last week, when he left City's training camp in Abu Dhabi and did not return, preferring instead to remain with his national side ahead of their victory against England, Robinho has not featured in a competitive game since injuring his ankle on international duty against Argentina in September.

Manager Mark Hughes expects him to be fit to face Hull in City's next fixture after the Liverpool game.

City will also be without winger, Martin Petrov, who has a knee injury, while Sylvinho is out with a calf injury.

Although he missed last week's friendly in Abu Dhabi in order not to aggravate his knee, Craig Bellamy seems certain to be in the starting line-up.

As common sense prevailed and Robinho did not end up making his comeback for Brazil, either against England last Saturday or Oman three days later, after a near three-month absence with an ankle injury, the striker has been able to maintain his improvement on the training ground.

His performances have been enough to confirm his place in Hughes' travelling party for Merseyside. But his actual comeback may have to wait until the visit of Hull next week.

"It is important Robinho is back with the group," said Hughes.

"It could be a little bit early for him but certainly he is in the frame for next week's game."

After a run of five successive draws, City are eager for a victory against possibly the most likely of the established top four to fall from their lofty perch.

Not that Hughes is taking anything for granted.

"There is a demand on Liverpool," he said.

"They are expected to be successful. That has been there for decades. There is a fear of failure in the sense of not allowing themselves to think of the consequences of losing games.

"After a run of drawn games it is the perfect match for us.

"We have to be playing at our best to get a positive result and I am sure the reverse is true.

"They will be looking to prove a few people wrong."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
European News
Yossi Benayoun
Football
Martin Petrov
Manchester City
Glen Johnson
Mark Hughes
Craig Bellamy
Premier League
Fernando Torres
UEFA Champions League
Fabio Aurelio
Steven Gerrard
Mark Hughes
Jamie Carragher
Hull City
Pablo Zabaleta
Liverpool
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