Like a card player holding his cards to his chest, Liverpoool manager Rafa Benitez has been very coy when commenting on Steven Gerrard’s fitness level prior to the match on Wednesday against Real Madrid.
Whilst he has made it clear that Gerrard will feature in the match, Benitez has not yet made it known if the Liverpool skipper will be in the starting XI or on the bench.
“Steven will be in the squad,” Benitez said. “He was okay in training this morning. It was a special training session so we were not testing him 100%, but he trained okay so we will see.”
In the past, this sort of thing would have been a foregone conclusion. Benitez would have risked his star player due to the fact that the club was usually out of the league race by that point. Champions League football was the only thing on his mind. But with Liverpool sitting in second place seven points back, Liverpool supporters have to wonder if the pressure to perform is causing Benitez to risk Gerrard ahead of schedule. If he does feature and Liverpool get a positive result Benitez looks like a god; but if he features, re-injures the hamstring and Liverpool fall flat, then he looks like he’s pressing too hard. It’s a tough spot for the manager.
What do Liverpool supporters think? Should Gerrard be in the starting XI or on the bench on Wednesday night?