Alvaro Arbeloa out for at least 10 days
LIVERPOOL suffered a fresh injury blow last night with the news that Alvaro Arbeloa will be out for at least 10 days.
The full-back has a slight hamstring tear and is a doubt to make the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid at Anfield a week on Tuesday.
Arbeloa sustained the injury during his impressive display in the 1-0 win in Madrid on Wednesday and is currently undergoing treatment. He will miss today's Premier League games at Middlesbrough today and at home to Sunderland on Tuesday.
Arbeloa's injury is further bad news for manager Rafael Benitez, who is ready to throw Steven Gerrard back into his starting line-up today.
The Liverpool boss's attacking options have been severely rocked by the absence of Fernando Torres following the injury he picked up at the Bernabeu.
Torres suffered a twisted ankle and has been ruled out of today's game, and now faces a race to be fit in time to face Sunderland.
And with Gerrard making his return after a hamstring tear for the final two minutes in Madrid, Benitez is considering putting his captain back in from the start.
He will be assessed this morning before a final decision is made but Benitez is aware of the need to play as strong a side as possible at the Riverside.
Liverpool's last win there came in 2002 and a failure to improve on that dismal record will only strengthen Manchester United's position at the top of the Premier League.
The champions are not in league action this weekend as they take on Tottenham in the Carling Cup final tomorrow, giving the Reds a chance to close the seven-point gap.
Which is why Benitez is keen to give Gerrard every chance to prove his full fitness.
Benitez said: "Every game is so important now because we need to put United under pressure. So we need to win and to win and you need to have your best players.
"Steven Gerrard will be in the squad, he has trained and we have spoken with the medical team. But we will again leave a decision on him until much later."
The decision not to risk Torres is chiefly based on the need to give him a chance to make the visit of Sunderland on Tuesday.
"Torres has had this problem before, and the recuperation was very quick, but he cannot play twice in four days," added the Reds boss.