Gerrard out of Liverpool's Champions League clash

August 27, 2007

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will miss the crucial Champions League tie against Toulouse at Anfield and there is already a doubt over his involvement with England for two vital Euro 2008 qualifiers next month.

The hairline fracture of a toe which caused him to miss last week's international friendly with Germany and the 2-0 Premier League victory at Sunderland on Saturday has ruled Gerrard out of the third qualifying round second leg against the French.

Gerrard sustained the injury when Liverpool won 1-0 in France almost a fortnight ago but played against Chelsea five days later with a pain-killing injection.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is hopeful his captain will have recovered enough to face Derby at the weekend but made no promises - and should the player miss that match his participation for England against Israel and Russia would be in question.

'I would hope Steven will be a possibility to play against Derby but I am not sure, it is up to the doctors,' said Benitez.

'Then we will have to see about England. It is too soon yet, it will depend very much on what England's medical people feel and our own medical staff.'

England boss Steve McClaren will name his squad on Friday and Gerrard will definitely be included, but he must fear another club v country battle.

Jamie Carragher will also be missing against Toulouse after the defender spent last night in hospital after sustaining a broken rib and collapsed lung at the Stadium of Light.

'Jamie will definitely be out but the injury is not as bad as it sounds. He may miss a couple of weeks, we will see,' added the Liverpool manager.

Benitez will have defender Sami Hyypia available despite the Finn breaking a nose at Sunderland, with Alvaro Arbeloa a possible stand in at centre-back.

Gabriel Paletta would have been another alternative but he was sold to Boca Juniors for around £2million at the weekend, a deal completed before the injury problems started to mount.

'There is no point considering what I would have done had I known about the injuries, but Paletta needed to be playing so it is best that he has gone to Boca,' explained Benitez.

'Sami will be okay; he has trained today and is happy to play against Toulouse.'

It also seems Peter Crouch will also start the match, having been the fall-guy in the manager's rotation policy so far.

'I have not felt the need to talk to Peter about this, he knows he is part of my plans,' said Benitez.

'I needed to talk to him and support him when he first arrived at the club and there was so much debate about him not scoring.

'But this is different. He knows he is important and will play many games. I now expect him to be professional and ready when he is needed.'

Liverpool are expected to complete the job against the French, even without Gerrard and Carragher, but Benitez has warned it will not be easy.

'I saw enough of what Toulouse are capable of in the first game. They are good on the counter-attack and they will sit and wait for their opportunity,' he added.

'We just need to be aware and concentrate all the time. What we need is an early goal and that will make things easier to control.

'But we must understand that the job is not yet done - we must make sure we get to the group stages. I do not think of the consequences of not doing that, I am always a positive person.'

Liverpool are expected to wear black armbands and observe a minute's silence ahead of the match in respect of 11-year-old Rhys Jones, who was murdered in nearby Croxteth last week.

A club spokesman said: 'There will be a fitting tribute, but that is all we want to say until we have consulted the boy's family.'

The youngster was an Everton fan and the Toffees' players visited the site of his shooting today to pay their respects.

Liverpool, conscious the tragedy has shocked everyone in the city and the country, will pay their own tribute.