Bellamy return delayed by court appearance

November 27, 2006

Craig Bellamy is almost certain to be ruled out of Liverpool's midweek home match against Portsmouth because of delays at his court hearing.

The Wales forward, who has denied an assault charge in his home city of Cardiff, spent two days in Magistrates' Court last week - and three more days have been set aside this week for a trial initially expected to be over in two.

Matters have not been helped by the non-appearance of a witness, which curtailed progress today.

Bellamy has still not given evidence himself and it is likely the case will continue into Wednesday, making it impossible for the 27-year-old to return to Anfield in time to be involved against Portsmouth in the Barclays Premiership clash that night.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez was already worried about the pressures on Bellamy and was not satisfied that he was ready for a big role against Manchester City last Saturday.

Liverpool's injury problems meant Bellamy headed back to the north-west after Friday's evidence, but he eventually spent five hours driving and Benitez used him as a substitute only in the final minutes.

Benitez said: 'Craig had been away most of the week - it was not easy for him.

'He arrived back in Liverpool only late on Friday. It had taken him several hours, so he did not have too much sleep.

'This made it almost impossible to use him.

'I will wait to see how he is during the week with the trial. But he will be in Cardiff for two more days, for sure - so maybe involving him against Portsmouth on Wednesday will be difficult.'

Bellamy has been using Cardiff's training facilities to stay fit, but his lack of involvement in the build-up to the Pompey match means Liverpool will plan without him.

Benitez will be far happier about Steven Gerrard's involvement following the captain's return to goal-scoring form at the weekend.

The midfielder said: 'I have not been happy with my form this season - but of late I can feel it coming back.

'I set myself high standards and I try to be the best every time I play.

'Rafa studies the game that much, he's interested in the small details.

'He's always going to be on at me and the other players to try to improve all the time. I understand exactly what he means.'

Gerrard added: 'I cannot go forward all the time, I have to think about the team and pick the right moment. You are learning with every match and training session.

'And, when the goals are not coming, you lose a bit of confidence and you stop shooting. I looked a the games when I was not scoring and maybe I was not shooting enough.

'When my form is not there and my shooting is a bit erratic there's no-one more frustrated than me. There is no-one more critical than myself. I want to get it right.'

Liverpool have also completed the signing of 17-year-old Argentinian full-back Emiliano Insua from Boca Juniors, subject to international clearance.